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Instilling a Love of Poetry at Robert Smalls Leadership Academy

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Student in School Sketching to Understand Imagery
A Robert Smalls Leadership Academy Student Sketching to Understand Imagery

Through the generosity of the Bargain Box of Hilton Head and a grant from the Foundation, Eve Weaver’s fourth grade students at Robert Smalls Leadership Academy are learning to appreciate poetry through her project entitled “Poetry for Life!”

Through the purchase of various poetry book collections, the project gave the students an opportunity to engage with all types of poetry through listening and reading as well as by using art, writing, movement, and drama to engage with words. The multiple copies of the poetry book collections allowed for partner reading and small group instruction using poetry. Students were able to develop fluency as well as build their vocabulary.

Finding literary elements like alliteration, personification, line breaks, imagery, stanzas, tone, hyperbole, similes, and metaphors in selected poems helped students gain confidence to begin to understand, use and recognize these terms that will prove beneficial throughout their educational careers.

Two Students Finding a Poem to Share
Two Robert Smalls Leadership Academy Students Finding a Poem to Share

The students were also able to use the materials during the afterschool program for direct instruction and enrichment beyond the school day. In addition, “book clubs” of 4 to 6 students were able to meet with the literacy interventionist for enrichment using poetry to teach ELA standards.

Ms. Weaver conducted an informal survey of the 32 students who participated in the project. The survey was given in January and again in May. In January, 12% of students said they liked poetry compared to 88% of students who said they liked poetry when asked in the May survey.

Ms. Weaver also observed students developing a true love for poetry. Prior to the project, students who said “poetry is boring,” or “I don’t know any poems” became excited about poetry! By the end of the year, they had favorite poems and favorite poets. They were able to find humor and sadness in poems. And the students even enjoyed reading the poems chorally and using sticky notes to tab pages with favorite poems to share.

Two Students Identifying Cat Key Words to Write a Poem
Two Robert Smalls Leadership Academy Students Identifying Cat Key Words to Write a Poem

One of the book club groups asked to write their own poems about cats. This activity turned into an extension of a lesson about recognizing key details in nonfiction text when they wrote acrostic poems to state facts.

“As a retired teacher who has returned to work, I am excited each day I get to share my love of reading as a literacy teacher,” shared Ms. Weaver.

The collection of poetry books that was made possible by the generosity of the Bargain Box of Hilton Head was also utilized for summer school at RSLA to implement a “Poem of the Day” teaching standards and, more importantly, building a lifelong love of poetry - poetry for life!


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