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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Essential Poetry: Activating the Imagination in the Elementary Classroom


Does poetry have a place in elementary education? Can reading and writing poetry offer elementary learners a way to imagine (and to image) the world through personal insight, to organize and interpret their experience, and to discover meaningful connections to other areas of knowledge? If so, how should these modes of interaction and interpretation be taught? This article examines poetry’s place in the California Content Standards for Language Arts, illustrates and defends a foundation for teaching poetry to students in the 3rd grade and analyzes examples of student writing in the 3rd 4th and 5th grades taught by the author through a project she developed at a dual immersion charter school in an underserved school district.

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