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Infusing Poetry in Afterschool | LiteracyConnections

Rachel Roseberry

Rachel Roseberry is the Literacy Manager at ExpandED Schools.

This post is part of our LiteracyConnections blog series, where we explore the bridge between literacy and child development.


You are the September breeze, the smell of paper, a new year

You are broken English and perfect grammar

You are a messy head, a calculated heart

You are finally looking at yourself

- excerpt from an I Am poem, written during the Infusing Poetry in After-school Programs workshop


Recently, 30 youth workers from DYCD after-school programs across the five boroughs gathered in our offices for a workshop entitled “Infusing Poetry in After-school Programs (Grades K-5).” National Poetry Month (in April) had just concluded, but the workshop concentrated on how to incorporate poetry into programming all year round. 

Programming designed for the expanded learning day focuses (rightly) on tapping into and deepening student engagement and motivation for learning, and the most successful activities draw on students’ interests and identity. In our poetry workshop, educators read engaging, relevant poetry from diverse voices (Langston Hughes, Naomi Shihab Nye, Shel Silverstein, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Gary Soto and more), learned how to discuss poetry with children, and then experienced extension activities ranging from illustrating poems to acting them out to making a beat using musical instruments as accompaniment to reading poems aloud.

In the second phase of the workshop, the focus shifted to facilitating the writing of poetry with students. Participants in the workshop engaged in structured modeling and brainstorming activities and then were asked to write several different types of poems including a repetitive “I am” poem and a playful “shape” poem. As you can see in these photos, the poems they produced were remarkable.  

As a trainer, my goal is to lead workshops that present practical strategies for infusing literacy into the expanded learning space, but a secondary goal is to showcase and illuminate our adult capacities as  readers, writers and, yes, poets. If we can identify and harness the power of literacy in our own lives, we are more easily able to convey its importance to the children with whom we work.  


Infusing Poetry in After-School Programs Workshop Spring '17

Click here to learn more about our upcoming Spring 2017 literacy workshops <



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