Let’s begin with a question: Did you ever have a magnetic poetry set on your refrigerator? You know, the hundreds of little magnets that you could arrange and rearrange to create poems, list, stories and more? Honestly, I never did, but when I earned my first classroom, that was one of the first things I purchased. I love words and I love playing with words. Arranging and rearranging those magnets on my filing cabinet to create messages was one of my favorite things to do for and with students. I would leave the students notes, would create poems in relation to the stories we were reading and even ask questions in hopes that a student responded...and they usually did.

I bring my love of magnetic poetry to my work with teachers as well. How? By creating spaces for teachers to tinker with words, create a vision to their day or simply share a window into their thinking. 
If you’re coaching in person, create poetry trays for teachers and place them on the tables in preparation for your next session together. I like using the small magnetic cookie sheets from the Dollar store. I simply add a handful of word magnets to the tray and I am ready to go. If you do not have trays and magnets, don’t worry! I KNOW you have sticky notes. Gather sticky notes of all shapes and sizes along with colorful markers and arrange them on tables instead.

At the start of the session, or as teachers walk into the room, ask them to use those materials to create a poem to capture their thinking. It could be about their day, their current state of mind or their understandings of the upcoming session topic. Teachers can work independently or they can work as a group to develop a shared vision for the content ahead, too, like a needed mantra or team mascot of sorts.

You can also try this at the end of a session to help teachers reflect on their learning as well. Invite teachers to create short poems about their learning, what resonated with them the most or what they are ready for next. Take pictures of their poems for later reflection and to support your planning and coaching.

If you're working with and coaching teachers virtually, you can easily recreate this activity digitally with a Google Slides template. Take a look at the simple template I created for teachers as part of a book study on independent reading. Teachers can create individual poems on their own slide or team up to create collaborative poems instead.

But here’s the best part: You can create magnetic poetry for ANY reason, not just a book club or professional learning session. It’s a great While You Wait activity for National Poetry Month or for any season you need a bit of fun. 

My favorite templates to use are Eric Curt’s Control Alt Achieve seasonal magnetic poetry templates and Betsy Potash’s Digital Poetry slides. .

There is something powerful about giving educators time to reflect and create with something as simple, yet fun, as magnetic poetry tiles. Carving out just a few minutes for teachers to make and create a vision or shared understanding of a topic can jumpstart creativity and flexible thinking. Carving out just a few minutes to reflect on new learning is equally important. So is creating ‘just because’ we need a bit of fun in a session so teachers can pass it along to their students. What are you waiting for?

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