I have used poetry units in three ways: at the beginning of the year to establish writing workshop expectations, during the year as mini-lessons between longer writing assignments, and at the end of the year to keep my students engaged. National Poetry Month is April, and this could be taught then.
Although writing poetry is not specifically listed in the Common Core Standards, I find that supporting my students through the writing process with several shorter assignments encourages them to take on longer ones. I use the planning worksheet to help my students increase their vocabulary. I encourage them to use tools such as a dictionary and thesaurus.
For a student who cannot think of what to write, I have them look through a non-fiction book or article to find interesting words. Some of my favorite word combinations were found in National Geographic articles.
When I introduce writing poetry using parts of speech, I use a Mad Lib or some other fill in the blank story. I connect that activity with writing the type of poems here. I have included a glossary of terms for the students. After some introduction, these activities should be somewhat independent.
I require my students to publish a certain number of poems by typing them on a computer or writing them neatly on a piece of related art. I also require my students to perform a poem they wrote themselves at a poetry slam.
To organize a class poetry slam, I set a date and time and post it on the assignment calendar. I tell my students that I expect them to all share at least one poem at that time. We sit in a circle and take turns reading or reciting a poem. We snap our fingers instead of clapping to show appreciation. I wait for everyone to share one poem before I have anyone share a second poem.