As an educator, it is my responsibility to spark the imaginations of children and guide them in the direction to become lifelong learners. I have come to find that the use of poetry in the classroom is the best way to reach out to learners of different academic levels by activating the imagination of each individual student. Poetry itself should be its own subject taught in school and explored at every grade level. While we have not yet reached that point within the curriculum of New Haven Public Schools in the early primary grades, we manage to utilize poetry across academic disciplines in the classroom throughout the school year. My goal is to identify and utilize poetry with a focus on rhyme, rhythm and the sound of sense and nonsense in the first grade classroom. Poetry may be used to aid in student comprehension and the implementation of new skills across all academic disciplines. I have found that it can also be especially useful in teaching and motivating reluctant learners in the primary grades.
The city of New Haven already integrates small pieces of poetry into the literacy curriculum of our public schools. As part of the district curriculum, my kindergarten and first grade students are introduced to many literary devices, most of which can be explored through children's poetry. My students are also provided the opportunity to explore Nursery Rhymes through whole and small group instruction, classroom activities and independent reading. Until recently, I had not given much thought about the breakdown of the curriculum and my classroom activities to identify poetry, as I had always thought it was something to be specifically taught. Upon reflection, I have realized that poetry in itself is more than simply a subject to be "taught" to students. Poetry is a powerful tool of literacy that should be utilized as a means to achieve mastery of individual skills and the application of strategies in the classroom. Every teacher has a range of student learning needs and goals in their classroom. Using poetry is a great way to reach out to learners of all different levels. More importantly, it is an incredible device that can get reluctant readers more actively involved through participation in small and whole group instruction.