Each fall, 5th Grade Instructor, Language Arts, Student Leadership & Entrepreneurship Coach, Chuck Fischer leads Aspen Academy students through an exercise that grows their love of poetry: The Poetry Anthology Project.
Give Them Choices
The Poetry Anthology Project is specifically designed to get students interested and excited
about poetry. The students have a lot of choices throughout the project. They first choose
whether they want to do a digital version in Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint, or if
they want to do a 3-ring binder version. They then choose from three different challenge
levels: bronze, silver or gold. These levels don’t affect their grades, but instead, are a
reflection of how interested in, or dedicated to, poetry the students are.
After these choices, the students have three sections to create. They must find poems they
like from professional poets, like Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky or Sharon Creech.
Secondly, they must also collect poems from their peers. This is often done through shared
readings where students hear poems from each other and request copies for their own
anthologies. Lastly, the students must include their four to eight best poems for the month-
Teach the Value of Editing
As far as writing goes, the focus of the project is for students to learn about and value the
revising and editing stages of the writing process. For each poem that the students liked,
they had to revise and edit until it accomplished what they set out to do. The project helped
students understand that even 50 words in a poem must be edited and revised until they
are the right 50 words.
Highlight Their Work
The project culminates in with The Author’s Tea -- a celebration of the students’ efforts. Although many of the students were nervous about sharing, most of them got into the experience and ended up wanting to share at least two poems!
Charles Fischer has taught in public, charter and private schools in a variety of settings, from rural Maine to inner-city Atlanta to suburban Denver. For more than 20 years, he has worked with a wide range of students from kindergarten to AP English and has been nominated for a Teacher of the Year award four times. He has his Master’s degree in Teaching & Learning from the University of Southern Maine, and received his B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Binghamton University.
Charles writes fiction and nonfiction, with forays into poetry. His first novel, Beyond Infinity, won a 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award bronze medal (YA fiction). His latest book, The Power of the Socratic Classroom, is the ultimate guidebook for using Socratic Seminar to promote critical and creative thinking in any K-12 classroom.