oregon trail poetry project
lesson ideas (3rd to 5th grade)
During or after the study of the Oregon Trail, students work in small groups to create a series of poems covering the experience of the Oregon Trail.
Students create a Google Lit Trip, uploading their poems and pictures at various points on the trail. At the completion of the project, the class as a whole will have covered all the major landmarks on the trail as well as poems about the realities and hardships of the journey, the beauty of the landscape, and will have captured the hopes and fears of the pioneers as understood by students studying the migration.
One of the things a teacher noticed while reading a number of poems on the OPV website was how many of the poets have rain in their poems. In Oregon, it's not surprising that rain finds its way into poets' imaginations, and it became something of a motif for this reader and then an idea for a poetry writing lesson for students of any age.
This is an easy idea to help introduce your students to the OPV website.
poems about places
Lots of the poems on the website are about places. What is a place you really love? Write a poem about it. If as a teacher you are really brave, you can take these places and post them on a map in Google earth, with pictures! To find out how to do this look at Google Lit Trips and this document which explains how to use Google Lit Trips.
have a poetry reading
You might be surprised at how easy it is to have a poetry reading in your classroom. Students can choose a poem from the OPV website, they could write their own, they could read someone else's from the class, they could also bring in a favorite poem. Don't underestimate the excitement that students have about writing their own poetry. The act of reading poetry in a group is great for developing confidence and the ability to speak in front of a group.
When you have to think about a poem, interview it. Ask it the questions listed in the pdf below. If you have to write about the poem afterwards, you can use the answers to these questions. Poems are often doing many things at once, just as a tight-rope walker might juggle, ride a unicycle, wear a blindfold, balance on a ball, or do flips while walking on a tight-rope strung between high buildings. Sometimes, though, a poem is just walking down the street.