How to Teach 4th Grade: The Poetry Unit

Roque Dalton


Like You

By Roque Dalton (Translated by Jack Hirschman)

Like you I love love, life, the sweet smell of things, the sky- blue landscape of January days.

And my blood boils up and I laugh through eyes that have known the buds of tears. I believe the world is beautiful and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.

And that my veins don’t end in me but in the unanimous blood of those who struggle for life, love, little things, landscape and bread, the poetry of everyone.


     The second day of Student Led Conference is over and I got to tinker with my school’s fourth grade poetry unit of study. I was able to collaborate with the fifth grade teachers, our literacy coach, my teammates, poets and folks of the twitterverse to hopefully improve learning at my school.

The students and teachers will explore that poetry deals with rhythm, word choice and emotion. We hope to have the teachers and students write together. We want to explore how poetry is a profoundly different writing genre.

The students will ask the same four questions when they read a poem:

1.     “What makes this a poem?”

2.     “What is this poem about?”

3.     “What do you notice about this poem?”

4.     “What tools do you notice the poet uses?”


The beautiful Georgia Heard led me to these questions and I love them for their simplicity.

During the IMMERSION week, the teachers and students can explore the following possible teaching points:

“What are the qualities of a mentor poem?”, “What does imagery look like in poetry?” “What poems do you love?” “What poems can you write that are influenced by your reading?” “What could a Favorite Poem Logbook look like?” “How do poets gather ideas?” ” “What is rhythm look and sound like in poetry?” “How is emotion shown when writing poetry?” “Why does poetry sound better read aloud?” “Poets experiment with list poems.” “Poets discover poetry through prose.” Poets are aware of their emotions.” “Teachers and Students read poetry aloud.” “Children read poetry from books.” “Poets use choral speaking and two voices when reading poetry aloud.” “Poetry spans across the curriculum.” “Poets discuss and analyze poetry.”

During the INQUIRY/ANALYSIS WEEK, students and teachers will explore the following possible teaching points:

“We envision poetry from our writers notebooks.” “Poets envision poetry from their narratives.” Poets aspire to choose a topic.” ” Poets discuss the craft of writing poetry.” “Poets attempt to use metaphors” Poets inspire other poets.” Poets search for more challenging and/or varied mentor poetry.” “Poets think of similes.” “Poets discuss and analyze poetry.” Poets work with sound and repetition.” Poets work with details” Poets review their collections of poems.”  “Poets help each other write and understand.” “Poets revisit and re-analyze poetry” “Poets FIND poems.” Poets revise poetry they have written too quickly.” “Teachers write poetry with children.” Poets learn poetry through choral speaking.” “Poets consider the world of visual arts when writing poetry.

The possible teaching points during the MOVING BEYOND THE COMFORT ZONE WEEK:

“Students read poetry many times over from many different perspectives.” Poets give poetry as gifts” Poets discover when to add in line breaks.” Poets reread and notice opportunities for repetition.” Poets attempt alliteration” “Writers draft poetry on left side of a piece of paper and revise on the right.” Poets reread drafts to rate and revise for voice.” Poets attempt onomatopoeia.” Poets return to mentor poems to study craft more closely.” Poets go from the ordinary to the poetic.” Students write poems to guess the meaning of poems.” Children use personification naturally, poets do too.” Poets heart map to find their inner vision.”

I will share the last EDITING, PUBLISHING, PRESENTATION WEEK ideas and teaching points in a future blog posting.




Dalton, R. (October, 2008 03). Kasama project -like you (como tu). Retrieved from

Graves, D. (1992). Explore poetry. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Educational Publishers.Heard, G. (1999). Awakening the heart. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Holbrook, S. (2006). Outspoken: how to improve writing and speaking skills through poetry performance. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Educational Publishers.

Ray, K. W. (2007). Study driven, a framework for planning units of study in the writing workshop. Portsmouth: Heinemann Educational Books.




5 thoughts on “How to Teach 4th Grade: The Poetry Unit

  1. Pingback: A Take on the Wednesday Challenges | Two Voices, One Song

  2. Reblogged this on Expat Teacher Man and commented:

    Happy Poetry Month! Teach those kids! #4thchat #5thchat #litchat #poetry

  3. Pingback: About Our Features | We Drink Because We're Poets

  4. Pingback: Me on the Radio, and I Needed a Love Song | The Dad Poet

  5. Pingback: He Could Live Forever! | EssayBoard

Leave a Reply...Blast away!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s