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Reading Poetry in the Middle Grades

20 Poems and Activities That Meet the Common Core Standards and Cultivate a Passion for Poetry

By Paul B. Janeczko
Foreword by Georgia Heard

Here is the book that takes the fear factor out of poetry and shows you how to use this powerful genre to spark student engagement. Step-by-step detailed lessons show how to investigage 20 contemporary and classic poems from the inside out while addressing the standards.

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“As teachers today, everything we teach has to be turbo-charged with skills and the promise of advancing our students academically. Here’s the cool thing: poetry can get you there. It is inherently turbo-charged. Poets distill a novel’s worth of content and emotion in twenty lines. The literary elements and devices you need to teach are all there, powerful and miniature as a Bonsai tree.” Paul B. Janeczko

You’d like to teach poetry with confidence and passion, but let’s face it: poetry can be intimidating to both you and your students. Here is the book that takes the fear factor out of poetry and shows you how to use this powerful genre to spark student engagement and meet language arts requirements. Award-winning poet Paul B. Janeczko is the master for creating anthologies for pre-teen and adolescent readers, and here he’s chosen 20 contemporary and classic selections with step-by-step, detailed lessons for investigating each poem from the inside out. Kids learn to become active readers of poetry, using graphic organizer worksheets to help them jump over their fear and dive into personal, smart, analytical responses. There’s no better genre than poetry for helping students gain perspective on their own identities and their own worlds, and Paul provides a space on each reproducible poem for private thoughts, questions, feelings, and ideas. Your students will discover what each poem means to them.

The 20 poems in this collection were chosen for their thought-provoking topics; compelling real-world themes that lead to conversation and collaboration in middle school classrooms. And by showing you how the poems and activities address the common core standards for English Language Arts (complete with a sample chart linking the poems to the standards), Paul provides a clear understanding of how you can “get there” using poetry.

You can cultivate a passion for poetry in your classroom. Take the journey with Paul B. Janeczko and grow in confidence with your students, meeting some standards along the way.

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"Abandoned Farmhouse," by Ted Kooser
"Deserted Farm," by Mark Vinz
"When It Is Snowing," by Siv Cedering, and "Poppies," by Roy Scheele
"Speak Up," by Janet S. Wong
"A Poison Tree," by William Blake
"Summertime Sharing," by Nikki Grimes
"The Wreck of the Hesperus," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"Every Cat Has a Story," by Naomi Shihab Nye
"Street Painting," by Ann Turner
"Seeing the World," by Steven Herrick
"Four Haiku," by J .Patrick Lewis
"Tugboat at Daybreak," by Lillian Morrison
"Ode to Family Photographs," by Gary Soto
"Hoods," by Paul B. Janeczko
"Friends in the Klan," by Marilyn Nelson
"Spring Storm," by Jim Wayne Miller
"Foul Shot," by Edwin A. Hoey
"A Hot Property," by Ronald Wallace
"Junkyards," by Julian Lee Rayford
"Nothing Gold Can Stay," by Robert Frost



"Reading Poetry in the Middle Grades" is an excellent resource and a must for any teacher who loves poetry and wants to attempt to share that love with their class The Midwest Book Review