Poems Are Teachers: How Studying Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres (Heinemann, born yesterday!) is both comprehensive and compact, a highly accessible, digestible guidebook for busy teachers. Its six chapters, ranging from "Writers Find Ideas" to "Writers Select Titles" (and I love that this is the last section, for how do you know what you've written until after you've written it?) consist of 4-page sections that follow a predictable and highly useful structure:
i. a model poem written for this very book by a currently practicing and publishing children's writer;
ii. words from the poet, tips for considering the technique, and ways to TRY IT;
iii. student poems which show the technique in action, which are infinitely encouraging to young writers!
Most striking (and, I admit, unexpected) is the way that Amy lightly weaves in references to many, many other models and mentors. For example, in the section Form a List in the "Writers Structure Texts" chapter, Amy follows up the model poem by Kwame Alexander with information that draws on everything from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to picture books by Judi K. Beach and Todd Parr, from dissertations to poetry classics like Falling Down the Page (Georgia Heard) and the newer Things to Do (Elaine Magliaro).
Other sections help teachers and students link writing work to genres outside writing, with references to movies and music, like the song "Summer Nights" from the musical Grease, mentioned in the section Weave Back and Forth to Compare and Contrast. This approach makes Poems Are Teachers reach up and down the age range, supporting teachers in using the intense, time-wise power of poetry to show students engaging, relevant ways to improve their writing from beginning to end, from surface to depth and from top to bottom.
I'm delighted, of course, to have been invited to this party, but I'm even more delighted to see what kind of event it has turned out to be--a rich practical resource for teachers who know what the particular qualities of poetry are and want to apply them effectively in the classroom. Congratulations to Amy on this achievement! And now, here's my little contribution--the model poem for the section mentioned above about comparing and contrasting.
To celebrate the publication of this book, I'm offering a copy (provided by the publisher, Heinemann--thank you!) to one winner from the staff of my excellent Montgomery County Public School here in Maryland. To enter, teachers should comment on this post, mentioning any poem they have used in their classroom in the last year. Bonus points for including how it strengthened a student's writing! A name will be drawn Monday the 23rd at 12 noon.
The Poetry Friday Round-Up is with Leigh Ann at A Day in the Life. Enjoy the celebration!