Favorite Poems for Middle School

I'm share my all time favorite poems to teach in the middle school classroom.  You'll find a collection of inspirational, clever, and funny poems that will have your middle school students loving poetry.


The British playwright W. Somerset Maugham once said “the crown of literature is poetry.” For the English teachers out there who have spent a good part of the year teaching complex novels, grammar rules and how to write a constructed response, this probably rings true!

 

Teaching poetry can be such a treat. It’s fun to have the students interpret ever-deeper meanings from even the shortest of stanzas. And it’s satisfying to find just the right poem to complement the theme or unit you’re focused on right now – be it a rhyming bit about dogs to break up your reading of Where the Red Fern Grows or a more serious poem that pays homage to Memorial Day.


The great thing about poetry is that it can be engaging, yet efficient; a couple read-throughs may take only a few minutes and can refresh your students on any number of skills, including close reading, determining central idea, interpreting figurative language, and citing text evidence. Or, it may simply open up a conversation. It’s always great to get the kids talking about literature!

So, with all the poems to choose from and all the ways that they can be taught in the classroom where does a teacher start?  Well, today, I thought I'd share with you my 5 favorite poems to read, analyze, and teach in the middle school classroom.

"In Just" by E. E. Cummings
Looking for a great poem to show off poetic innovations?  Then, you'll love "In Just" by E.E. Cummings!

This spring poem is told through the perspective of a child.  It's the perfect example of Cummings's poetic innovations.  In it, he plays with language, spelling, form, and punctuation.  I love teaching and sharing this poem because it's fun and a wonderful way to illustrate how poetry is limitless.  Students love discovering that all the typical rules that govern English Language Arts are thrown out the window with poetry.  It's mud-luscious!

Teach it with this Interactive Flip Book Resource.


"Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost
"Nothing Gold Can Stay" is a classic poem that students can really get analyzing!

Looking for a perfect way to combine literature and poetry?  Well, look no further than Frost's poem, "Nothing Gold Can Stay."  You might already recognize it from The Outsiders.  In the novel, Johnny Cade tells Ponyboy to "stay gold."  This poem perfectly portrays the theme of the novel, but it works great in isolation, too.  Its message that all good things must come to an end is relevant to so many experiences that our adolescent students are having.  They'll love Frost's words and message.  Help students analyze this poem and four others with this Poetry Analysis Unit.




"A light exists in spring" by Emily Dickinson
I love a poem that makes students dive deep into its meaning and Dickinson's "A light exists in spring" does just that.  This poem is complex enough for students investigate figurative language and tone before analyzing its meaning.

I love a poem that makes students dive deep into its meaning and Dickinson's "A light exists in spring" does just that.  This poem is complex enough for students investigate figurative language and tone before analyzing its meaning.  I've also found that students love learning about Emily Dickinson.  They're fascinated by the way she lived much of her life in seclusion.  Pairing this poem with a study on Dickinson has always been a hit in my classroom.

Celebrate this poem and Emily Dickinson with this reading comprehension learning centers and poem analysis resource.


"Journey to Be" by Mark R. Slaughter
Here's a contemporary poem that middle schoolers really relate to.  It's "Journey to Be" by Mark R. Slaughter.
Here's a contemporary poem that middle schoolers really relate to.  It's "Journey to Be" by Mark R. Slaughter.  His poem perfectly illustrates that life is about the journey and not the destination.  I love sharing and teaching this poem with students at the end of the school year.  It's a great read aloud.  I've also used it as part of a journey-themed unit.  Students love it!

Teach "Journey to Be" with this collection of Journey Poems Analysis and Writing.  You could even combine it with this FREE end of the year reflection book.


"Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes
What's not to love about the message in Hughes's poem "Mother to Son?"  I've taught this poem with students of all grade levels and they all love it.

What's not to love about the message in Hughes's poem "Mother to Son?"  I've taught this poem with students of all grade levels and they all love it.  It's message of perseverance is not only important, but it's also so inspirational.  This is a great one to share with students before standardized assessments or any time kids could use a little motivation.  

Help students interpret and analyze "Mother to Son" with this poetry analysis unit.


Reading, sharing, and analyzing poetry with middle school students can be so rewarding.  There's nothing like watching a class full of students discover a poem's deeper meaning and realize that poetry doesn't have to be intimidating.  On the contrary, poetry can be super accessible and even fun!

Don't forget...


Thanks for stopping by,
Mary Beth


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