The Resource Center’s Effective Practices Collection

Poetry is a powerful instrument in teaching literacy and in contributing to self-awareness and growth. Diverse programs use poetry; third graders to community college service-learners have all benefited from the power of poetry in their programs. The results are often dramatic; after spending even as little as half an hour writing poetry, one visiting poetry teacher found that the same students who had flatly refused to read before were asking for books and petitioning him to stay longer to experiment more with language.
Here are some effective practices related to poetry and the arts from the Effective Practices Collection.
Using poetry workshops to encourage literacy
An AmeriCorps member in Tukwila, Washington, used poetry workshops to encourage language and literacy development among elementary students. He then used the poems to market the program and recruit additional volunteers.
Holding a poetry contest to educate youth about watershed ecology
Each year, in affiliation with the Library of Congress Center for the Book, River of Words conducts a free international poetry and art contest for youth on the theme of watersheds. Children in kindergarten through twelfth grade are invited to explore their own local watershed, and its importance in their lives, by writing a poem or producing a work of art on this theme.
Using performance to give voice to children of prisoners
For adolescents who are dealing with difficult life issues, having a safe way to express their thoughts and feelings can make a tangible difference. At San Francisco’s Balboa High School, students told their stories in the form of a play, and this literally meant the difference between dropping out and staying in school.
Involving college students and community members in a social awareness event
“Tunnel of Oppression,” an interactive walk-through event that combines visual art, multi-media, poetry and prose, was hosted by the AmeriCorps*VISTA program at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) to raise participant awareness and increase social consciousness in students and community members.
Incorporating creative reflection activities
Invite student participation in the planning of reflection activities by offering forms of expression other than the traditional written essay, such as photo collage, poetry, or peer interviews.
The Resource Center’s Effective Practices Collection
Corporation for National and Community Service