4 Activities for National Poetry Month

It's National Poetry Month, so I wanted to share a few of the poetry styles I've been practicing with my history students.

1. Diamante

The power of this type of poem is in the variety of words students need to choose to complete the poem. In particular, the amount of verbs students have to write increases the action in their writing. If you think about it, it's the verbs that put the nouns to work and give ideas more context. Look at the Google Drawing template for the types of words in each line. I learned about this on Read Think Write.

Innovative Adventurous 
Plunder Conquer Enslave
European Explorers Connected Hemispheres
Miscegenate Convert Trade
Wealthy Global

2. Acrostic

These poems don't have to stop at one word for each letter. Consider how creativity explodes when limitations are placed on the process. For example, the one below includes full sentences with historical analysis, such as cause and effect and chronology or prioritization.
Humans develop technology to migrate into different environments.
Ice age environments change to allow for development of agriculture.
States form out of the food and labor surpluses.
Territories are defined and redefined because of economic and political differences.
Oceans are traversed, connecting far away lands through trade and cultural beliefs.
Revolutions in the way people produce and govern shape the modern eras.
Youth learns about the past to understand the process of making choices to solve problems. 

3. Haiku

H. W. Brands write a haiku about history every day or every other day and posts it to his Twitter feed and Facebook page. It's a creative way to use words to learn about history.

Try giving each of your students a different issue related to the same topic. String the haiku poems together to make a class work to share with the school and online communities.

I'm actually going to use Professor Brands' FDR court packing scheme haiku as part of an assessment. The poems could be matched to events or issues. Students could choose one of a few options to write a few sentences explaining the historical relevance.

4. Words That Begin With ... 

This work came out of my attempt to come up with a mnemonic for the issues in the Early Modern Era 1450-1750. Then, my students took it to the next level, blowing my mind.