Teacher Preparation


Have students browse the poems.

Allow time for the students to explore, either as homework or a classroom activity.

Begin class with a poem a day.


Have students select poems to memorize.

Allowing students to choose poems that resonate with them is key to helping them recite more effectively. By memorizing and reciting, students internalize the author’s message and further explore complex language and ideas.

Discuss the poems in class.

Understanding the text is the most important preparation for reciting poetry. If a student doesn’t understand the text, neither will the audience.

Share these memorization tips with your students:

  • Rewrite your poem by hand several times. Each time, try to write more and more of it from memory.
  • Read your poem aloud before going to sleep at night, and repeat it when you wake up.
  • Carry around a copy of your poem. You’ll find several moments throughout the day to reread or recite it.
  • Practice your poem by saying it to family and friends.


Model recitation skills in the classroom.

  • With the class, develop a list of bad habits that take away from a performance, such as inaudible volume, speaking too quickly or slowly, monotone, fidgeting, overacting, etc.
  • Then develop a list of elements of a successful recitation, such as sufficient volume, an appropriate speed with the proper pauses, voice inflection, evidence of understanding, etc.
  • Play portions of the audio and the videos as further examples.
  • Recite poems yourself--this is a powerful way to show students it can be done.
  • Allow class time for students to practice their poems. Peers can offer constructive criticism, using the contest evaluation sheet and evaluation criteria as a guide.


Include creative writing exercises.

Creative writing is a natural complement to Poetry Out Loud. We offer a number of optional writing exercises and lesson plans for teachers.

What People are Saying

"I learned just how much deeper your understanding of a poem is when you memorize it than when you just read it a couple of times, and how you understand it a little better every single time you recite it."
Alex Hanesworth
2015 WA POL Champion