Thursday, March 28, 2019

Poetry Pandemonium

Good Friday, Dear Poets.  Carol's Corner is hosting our round-up of links to more Poetry Friday goodness and kicking off the festivities with Ralph Fletcher's Daffodils. Lovely! 

Today I'm wearing my Teacher-Librarian poet hat is at the dry cleaners. 

Every April, I scramble a bit to be an active participant in Poetry Month festivities...AND share with students. This year, with the help of the Literacy Council in my school, I'm a bit more into the poetry-swing-of-things personally and professionally.

I asked my school Literacy Council if they would host Poetry Pandemonium*, a brackets style competition just before spring break. The poems would include examples of language arts content tested in end-of-year state exams.

Literacy Council was co-librarian and library assistant are fantastically creative. They helped lead this project. Hope and Mary make the "me," "we" in the following description.

Step 1: Gather poems. We asked Literacy Council teachers to submit poems that could be read aloud to students during homeroom. Each poem submitted was to be hi-lighted with figurative language or literary device concepts from our state standards.
  • repetition
  • rhythm
  • simile
  • metaphor
  • onomatopoeia
  • alliteration
Step 2: Choose two poems from each category. We narrowed down the poems by strength of the example of figurative language/literary device and length. Homeroom is short. We needed short poems that a class could vote their favorite within 15 minutes.

Step 3: Brackets. I had to ask for extra help with this. One of our Literacy Council teachers had no problem setting them up so that our Poetry Pandemonium would be complete by spring break, April 12th.

Step 4: Our library assistant took charge of the display with her flair for perfection, style, weeded book pages and fun paper butterflies that she made. 

Step 5: Prepping staff. Asking staff to add one more item to their early morning to-do list can be dicey. We sent out the following.

  • A "head's up" e-mail on Monday alerting staff that Poetry Pandemonium started on Wednesday.
  • Placed a paper copy of the brackets and directions in each homeroom teacher's mailbox.
  • Advertised on our school social media (@librarymiddle)
  • Timed our first Poetry Pandemonium to go out via automatic delivery at 8 am each morning.
    so that by 8:15 when students arrive, it can be up on screens in classrooms.
  • Provided very simple paper instructions with paper copy of the poems to our substitute coordinator. She made sure each substitute had the poems for homeroom.
  • Wrote an announcement for the principal to read over the PA at 8:15 alerting teachers to open up their e-mail for the Poetry Pandemonium link of the day.

Step 6 Delivery. We used google forms to share the date, featured figurative language and poem. Since formatting a poem is near impossible to do in google forms, I typed out each poem (that were carefully edited by my helpers) and took screen shots of them. I saved the poems as jpgs and then uploaded them as photos into google forms as a quiz question.

Each "question" in the quiz was a photo of the poem. There were a total of 3 questions. The third question was multiple choice of only two options the title/author of each poem. The poem that got the most votes is the choice the teacher clicked before submitting the survey.

Step 7 Announcing winners! At the end of each school day, the winning poem is announced in afternoon announcements by our principal. The winning poem is then displayed on our bracket bulletin board and shared on social media.

Our first poem featured rhyme. The winning poem was What Goes Wrong by our own Tabatha Yeatts Lonske from her wonderful poetry collection 'Imperfect: poems about mistakes: an anthology for middle schoolers'

Step 8 What to do with all the poems NOT selected for Poetry Pandemonium? We have printed them on bright paper that matches our bulletin board and next Friday, students from our Student Literacy Council will put them up all over the school for National Poetry Month. No poetry will go wasted!

Next week, I'll share how Poetry Pandemonium is going. Wish us luck!

*Poetry Pandemonium is heavily influenced by the great NCTE resource:


  1. This is absolutely overwhelmingly awesome! You are making your passion your vocation. Love!

  2. This is an absolutely brilliant idea, Linda. Wow. I hope lots of educators read this post and are inspired! (I also hope you feel a massive sense of achievement!)

  3. Linda- This sounds absolutely fabulous! Wondering if I could pull it together and do it with my students in the next couple of weeks. And then schoolwide next year! I love it!

  4. Everyone is going to have so much fun! You are a dream Teacher-Librarian, Linda. Happy National Poetry Month to you and all of your students! 'Hope your poet hat comes home all sparkly. :) xx

    1. Amy, two of your poems are competing against each other next week. LOL!

  5. Wow, Linda, lots of wonderful things going on because of your amazing organizational skills & those others who helped, too. I love Tabatha's poem. How great that it's one of the winners! Looks like a poetry playtime at your school! Librarians rock!

  6. I so love this! What an amazing poetry/community building activity you've created! I'm so impressed by your creativity, organization and energy! Go, Linda!

  7. WAY cool!! Fun AND connected to the standards. Brilliant. Like Carol, I'd love to do this in my classroom this year and maybe school-wide next year!

  8. That's a wonderfully fun and educational project for this next month, AND they have great taste. That poem by our Tabatha is fantastic!

  9. Wow, this is amazing!! What a fun project, and a great way to get even the most reluctant poetry readers engaged and excited!

  10. This is an amazing project! I can't wait to share this idea with my colleagues! Thanks so much for sharing your educational poem projects and ideas with us!

  11. Thank you for sharing your process with us -- such a valuable resource!! (And, of course, I am humbled to be part of the pandemonium!)

  12. I love this idea that will continue into National Poetry Month, Linda. It takes a great deal of effort to coordinate such a massive event and you seem to have pulled it off. Congratulations!

  13. Whoa! Fun, but so much work. I know it's a labor of love for you, though. Right? Happy NaWriPoMo! -- Christie @

  14. This sounds AMAZING, Linda! What a fun way to get the students excited about poetry. YAY YOU— poetry advocate extraordinaire!

  15. WOW! What a cool event! This is amazing, Linda. You rock!

  16. I am so impressed... such a great event on so many levels. What a great way to get students into poetry. Thank you for sharing details and photos, Linda.

  17. Wonderful project--I'll bet your students are having a poetry blast!


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!