On an early spring day, Sarah Hyland took her students outside for inspiration from nature to augment their poetry writing. Her fifth graders were uncharacteristically quiet, awaiting instruction from their teacher, which came in simple, one-word prompts. Red. Turquoise. Green. 

“We are beginning this unit with color poems, and I wanted to encourage students to go beyond the typical color/object associations, like ‘red-apple,’” says Ms. Hyland. “The idea was for students to draw parallels between seemingly unconnected things.” 

The goal of this unit is to increase students’ fluency with poetic language. Ms. Hyland wants her fifth graders to become more self-assured readers of poetry. She explains, “By continuing to expose them to different genres of poetry, and by working individually and in groups on our own writing, my hope is that students will build confidence with voice and self-expression.”

Several students volunteered to share the beginning stages of their work in front of their peers. “In my opinion, it’s a lot easier to share something you feel really good about, and that you worked hard on,” shares Jack, a fifth grade student. “I agree,” adds Caroline, a classmate of Jack’s. “I thought back to other times I’ve shared and remember that, ‘I’ve done this before, I can do this again.’ You get nervous beforehand, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.” 

The next phase of Ms. Hyland’s poetry unit will challenge students to create chapbooks of their work.