For my ninth grade ELA class, my last unit of the school year is poetry. While I typically introduce poetry in a fairly traditional manner, this year, I wanted to make it more engaging.
POETRY TASTING DIRECTIONS
NOTE: All materials and resources for this activity are available here.
1. I decided to set up the classroom like a restaurant and call it Couplet Cafe. I put my desks in groups of four to create tables and decked out each table restaurant-style. Each table was complete with comment cards, table signs, placemats, checks, candles and flowers. If I was going to do this, I was going all out.
2. I then got into character. I locked the classroom door and put up a sign saying that Couplet Cafe would be opening at noon (the start of class). I listened as my students approached the door and could hear their excited murmuring. At 12:00, I opened the door, menus in hand, and asked them if they had a reservation and how big their party was. The looks on their faces was priceless!
3. Each group sat down at a table and I approached with menus, acting like a waitress. Once every student was seated, menu in hand, I welcomed them to Couplet Cafe's poetry tasting. I explained that the cafe was buffet style. I tried to select some poems that were not traditionally taught in school and ones that would be interesting to the students. There were a variety of themes and poetry styles as well to keep it interesting.
4. On some back tables lay the poetry "dishes," each in color-coded folders and organized by course. I also color coded the poems themselves by printing them on colored paper. The menus also had these distinct color labels for each course. I gave each student a paper plate and asked them to write their course selections on the plate. Then I dismissed each table one by one to go to the "buffet" and load their plates with their selections.
5. When all of the students had their plates full of poems, I asked them to "taste" their poetry appetizers and fill out the comment card, which asked them about their first impressions of the "dish," what figurative flavors they noticed, and what they felt about the poem overall. These comment cards, I explained, would be their payment for the poetry tasting. Students then completed the comment cards for each course. Before dessert, I offered an intermezzo as a palate cleanser - a humorous song
6. Finally, I asked the students to take one of the blank checks on their table and write down their favorite line or phrase from one of the poems. They then shared these favorite quotes with their table mates and posted them on the board for their classmates to view.
Overall, the poetry tasting was a lot of fun and an engaging way to introduce my students to poetry. I am hoping to adapt the lesson to SSR book tasting in the fall.
What are you favorite fun activities to do with your students?