Saturday, March 16, 2013

World Poetry Day and Point of View

One of the things I love most about teaching is the way kids surprise you.  They surprise you with their honesty, their clarity, and their over-simplicity. I have a couple friends with young kids whose one-liners are the highlight of my Facebook newsfeed. Kids see the world so black and white and sometimes have the hardest time seeing that so much of the world is gray.  We see the world through our own eyes and through the lens of our experiences.

This is one of the things I love most about teaching history.  I love helping kids develop a deeper understanding of how our experiences affect the way we understand circumstances and events.  Almost every topic you discuss in History comes down to the idea of point-of-view, which is why it is such a vital concept for students to grasp.  I love discussing point of view when teaching reading or writing.  (My ultimate goal as an educator is to create History curriculum for elementary students that they can relate to and that helps them build the conceptual foundations they need to be successful in later grades.)

Next week I look forward to using my March Poetry Practice with my students and continuing poetry into the month of April for Poetry month. Thursday, March 21st is World Poetry Day.  This is a fabulous way to introduce poetry as you approach the month of April.  It is also a fabulous way to incorporate discussions of point of view.  You can discuss how an author's country, language, and experiences would affect the way they write poetry and the topics they choose.  You can discuss how different people interpret a poem, and why they might view them differently. How does our world view affect the way we read texts and see the world?

Here are some ideas for World Poetry Day from Read Write Think. One lesson idea for World Poetry Day is to have your students read two different English translations of a poem and discuss differences.  If you have students who speak multiple languages, you can even bring in a poem in a language they can read.  Have them look at the difference between the English version and the original version. You can go to and select poems by region to find some translated poems. Here are some poems that have been translated through a Poetry Translation Workshop.

For writing poetry, you could have everyone write a poem on the same topic and discuss the differences and similarities in their poems.  (This also ties to Common Core because students are supposed to be comparing and contrasting texts with similar themes or from different cultures.)

I was thinking earlier about some fun hand-on activities for thinking about point of view:
  • Have everyone bring sunglasses and then switch with someone.  You could discuss how you might see the difference with someone else's "eyes." 
  • You could do the same by having them switching shoes. What is it like to "walk in someone else's shoes?"
  • Bring disposable cameras or a digital camera.  Have them take pictures and then write a poem about a picture they took or someone else took.  This gets them thinking about seeing the world "through a lens."
  • Bring old pictures, paintings, postcards,etc. and have them write a poem about the picture or from the point of view of a person or object in the picture.
Using hands on ideas like these will get your students thinking more metaphorically or visually, which helps them think about poetry.  I love reading poems and having students discuss and draw what they visualize.  Younger students are often more creative and less inhibited than older students and adults.  They are not so molded to fit in a box yet, so they often surprise you with their creativity and metaphoric insight. Poetry is one of my favorite things to teach with students when you make it fun, creative, and challenging.

Here are some World Poetry Day resources I found on Pinterest as well:

Source: via April on Pinterest
Source: via April on Pinterest
Source: via April on Pinterest
I think the book Every Day's a Dog's Day sounds like the perfect way to introduce this idea of discussing point of view with poetry.  I intend to try and pick up the book at the library tomorrow.  Another fun way to introduce World Poetry Day or your poetry unit is through reading the poem "Introduction to Poetry" by Billy Collins.  How do you teach poetry and point of view?


  1. What an awesome post - thanks for sharing all of your great ideas! I LOVE Spring and I LOVE poetry, so this will be a good week for me :)

    To celebrate Spring, I take my kids out to the playground and we lay out towels on the ground, put on our sun glasses, and experience Spring. It's a good review of their five senses while trying their hands at writing sense poetry.

    I have a FREE Spring-themed Sense Poetry activity you can download here:
    Sense-ational Spring Poetry Activity


    Thanks for the great book/pin ideas :)


  2. The culture that prevails nowadays is men and women proclaiming their love status on various social networking sites. These statuses also keep on changing from time to time and swing between being single to committed, committed to single and married to single, ready to mingle. As the higher version comes the former gets dumped. In fact sometimes we ourselves forget "what is our relationship status?"


Pin It button on image hover