Responding to Poetry

In my last poetry post “Poetry is fun,” I described what the process was like for us as we read poetry. Given how unique the genre is and how I really wanted students to “experience” the poem and FEEL what the author created, we didn’t want our students to create a boring response to what they had read. When reading a non-fiction or fiction text, students annotate and document (1) unknown vocabulary, (2) their questions and thoughts as they read and (3) their analysis of features, and elements of the text. I wanted their response to reflect their experience with the poem and the imagery they found and the feelings they felt. 

Response Options


Given that imagery was something I really wanted students to take note of in their poems, this was an obvious choice for a response. Students could visually create the poem in any form they choose, drawing, collage etc. For more creative or artistic students it was the first opportunity that they had to respond to a text in such a way (in my class this year).


In week two of our lessons around poetry, we looked at music as poetry, particularly rap. When asked, “How many of you think that rap is poetry?” Many students disagreed, primarily on the basis of curse words and inappropriate topics. However, after reading some lyrics by Tupac, students took note of the literary devices and the poetic structures of his lyrics, students (seemed to) have more of an appreciation of rap, not just as a type of music, but at the advanced poetic devices that rappers utilize. (meter, alliteration, word play, repetition, symbolism etc.)


Clips, or iMovie if you’re fancy, is an easy way for students to create something that can include visuals, music, their own voice to show their analysis of their poem. Including images allows for students to illustrate the imagery of the poem, much like the art option. The overplay of music and filters allow them the show the tone and emotional feeling of the poem. And of course, they can record themselves discussing the aspects of the poem they wish.


The most traditional route, but appropriate nonetheless. 🙂 There was no requirement in terms of the length of their written response, but it had to include all of the criteria (see below).

Blackout Poems

Guidelines and suggestions for blackout poems are published here by Scholastic. We simplified the directions for our students and showed them examples. Here you can see several of their creations.

Shape poems

I didn’t make this an option explicitly, but some students already had experience with them and  asked if they could create them. OF COURSE!! In introducing the poetry responses, I told the students, if they had any other ideas for responses feel free to ask me and do them, as young people they are so much more creative than me! 🙂 LOL. 

Whichever option students choose to utilize, they did have to ensure to address and include in some way their analysis of the poem with the following criteria.

With the art, music and blackout poems, I simply asked them to ensure that they explained in some way the criteria above as well.

In order to increase the amount of poems they read and experienced, students self-selected 3 poems to read but only had to create a response to one. They still had to turn in their other poems with complete annotations identifying the ideas, emotions and imagery of the poem.

To reiterate, students had complete control over not only the poems they chose and their interpretations of the poems, but also now their responses. With these options and structure, I was able to increase their control over their work even more! #studentdrivenlearning!!

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