Tips for Writing Poetry With the Common Core in Mind

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How to Prepare Students for the Common Core Test in Writing Skills

Image: iClipart

I teach my students that there are three basic rules for traditional poetry. Of course we English teachers know that modern poetry looks nothing like Shakespeare’s lovely sonnets of old.

However we’ve got to start somewhere with middle-school-aged poets, who get poems confused with paragraphs. Have a look at this page for the poetry basics.

But how does poetry fit in the Common Core? That’s what I’m going to discuss today.

Let’s say you ask your students to write a lengthy essay on the scientific nature of snowflakes. If you do all the steps in the writing process, research papers can take three to five weeks before those essays are on your desk to be graded.

How long does it take you to grade 100 research papers? It takes me anywhere from 35 to 40 hours to grade those puppies. I’ve timed myself.

Five line poems, on  the other hand, I can usually grade on a Sunday, in ten hours or less, even with the prewriting and first draft paperwork. That also includes time for written feedback.

If you can accomplish at least three poems in a year, in addition to other writing projects, your students will have had more practice with the steps in the writing process than the kids down the hall in Miss Whatsit’s classroom, and as they say, practice makes perfect. If they really understand the steps in the writing process, they’ll use their whole 90 minutes to complete their common core writing test at the end of the year!

But how can you determine that your students really know the steps in the writing process?

When kids start using terms like “prewriting” and “editing” in their daily vocabulary, you know you’ve accomplished your goal.

The snowflake poem writing assignment is an opportunity for kids to participate in all the steps in the writing process, in two weeks or less, before moving on to another, more complex writing assignment. If you need handouts to help kids prewrite, edit, and revise a poem, look back over my latest posts. I’ve got a rhyme table, a poetry-themed web assignment, and a Powerpoint that may help.

Next week I’ll be posting a YouTube video that I created to teach kids the steps in the writing process, not just for poetry, but for other forms of writing as well. So be sure and watch for that.

Now the thing you’ve been waiting for…

  • Snowflake Shaped Poem Handout Side 1
  • Snowflake Shaped Poem Handout Side 2

(Please go to the Home page for instructions on how to download assignment sheets from this website.)

If you do a couple of practice runs on your school’s copier, you can actually line up the two handouts just right so they match front-to-back. That way your students will have a pretty shape to color on both sides of the page.

As always, I appreciate it when people share my website through social media. Like it! Tweet about it! Tell a friend!

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2 responses »

  1. I am unable to find the snowflake handouts to download from your post on 7 Sept 13 called “Tips for Writing Poetry with the Common Core in Mind.” I would like both sides of the Snowflake Shaped Poem Handout. Thank you.

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