A highlight of my spring poetry unit the past few years has been requiring my students to participate in whatever interactive project the Academy of American Poet proposes for National Poetry Month. The projects always comprise multimedia, engaging contemporary poems, lesson plans and more to make it easy for teachers to incorporate the projects into the classroom, and writing for an authentic (not-just-her-teacher) audience is such a valuable experience for my students to have as developing writers.

This year’s Dear Poet project was especially enriching for me because I fell in love with some of the poetry involved and challenged myself to write a mentor text for my students to guide them as they wrote. It also dovetailed nicely with a presentation I saw at NCTE from Nancie Atwell on “letter-essays”; I’m still thinking about how to work those more solidly into my curriculum for next year, but seeing my students inspired to write and chatting eagerly about who might be published or receive a response was truly gratifying.

Last year, I was so proud when one of my student’s poems was chosen for publication, and this Friday, I was excited to inform two of my students that their letters will be published on the Academy of American Poets’ website!

As any teacher knows, mid-May is the perfect time to get a piece of good news that reminds you why you spend time seeking out creative lesson plans and that perhaps we can make it to the end of the year after all!

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