Sparking Student Motivation: Two Voice Poems - Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom

Sparking Student Motivation: Two Voice Poems

Happy Saturday! Are you managing to stay warm where you are?? It is SOOOO COLD here! And it makes me mad because it just should not be this cold if there is no snow on the ground, in my opinion. BRRR!!

Anyway, I'm linking up with my BBB, Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching!! We did something super fun this week and I had to share about it, because honestly, I've never seen my kids so excited to write poems!

Have you heard of two voice poems? These are poems where two contrasting viewpoints are written- they are created so that two people should read the poem... one person reads as one character, and the second person reads as the other. It should be read line by line, so that some lines are read at the same time by both people... I introduced it by sharing this poem:
We read Love That Dog before Winter Break (read about that herehere, and here) and we are now reading Hate That Cat. If you have not read these books, go get them NOW! I mean it. They are so wonderful and the kids absolutely love them, too. So anyway, because we had dogs and cats on the brain, we did a class shared writing of a two voice poem about them. They brainstormed about dogs and cats in their notebooks, noting similarities and differences. (I did stress to them that we wanted to focus more on their personalities, not their appearances- for example, we don't want their similarity to be that they have two ears and four legs.......) Here is the poem that my students wrote as a class! I think you'll agree, they totally rocked it!!
We wrote it first on two pieces of chart paper (one for each voice), then I typed it up and blew it up on the poster maker to hang in the hall. :o)

Then of course, the next day, I wanted them to give it a try. I had them partner up with someone, and since we had been studying the Revolutionary War, I told them to choose two of the people we had been learning about. Boy, did they take the idea and run with it!! Check these out!

They didn't get finished with them on Wednesday, and begged me to let them work on them on Thursday...! Of course, I had to say yes. Then when I told them that, if they wanted me to, I'd type them and make them into posters for the hall like our first one, I thought I might get a few volunteers... but I had 75% of them wanting me to type them! I was so excited! Now to find room in the hall....... HA!

I think having them work together, giving them choice on who they wrote about, and then of course, it being a free-verse poem (no rhyming words!!) really motivated them. Even if you don't teach poetry, I encourage you to try out this activity- it's great for compare and contrast, which is one of our big standards to teach! :o) And of course, integrating it like I did can help cover some of your Social Studies, too!


  1. Have you heard of the "You Read to Me, I'll Read to You" series by Mary Ann Hoberman? They are books of rhymes written just like this. Only they are common fables, fairytales, nursery rhymes, etc. Maybe too young for 4th grade, but they are great for fluency and a lot of fun. I guess they don't teach content, but would work for character analysis.

    Literacy Spark

    1. Jessica, I just ordered a couple of these to add as an option for partner reading during my literacy work stations!

      Success in Second Grade
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  2. Love it! What a perfect integration of writing and social studies-you're so clever! I haven't used two voice poems in several years. :( I can't wait to have them write them! Thanks for the awesome idea and linking up BBB! Stay warm!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  3. AHHHHH! I LOVE THIS!! My teammate got me hooked on your mentor sentences as well. We started our first one a few days ago (it's been so hard with all our cold days, PDs, and MLK day off) but I really think they will help my readers and writers immensely. So glad I found your blog when I did! You have so many great ideas!

    Tales of a Teacher

  4. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE two voice poems! SO fun!

  5. "OH, were you gone? I didn't notice." HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
    This is the cutest idea. I've had that book Love That Dog for years, and I've never even looked at it. I better search my library for it now.
    I love that you carried this over into social studies. So great! I can see using this with science, math....the possibilities are endless. Thank you so much for sharing this brilliant idea!

    Teaching Powered by Caffeine

  6. Love two voice poems! This is fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Come Visit Me at Readbox!!!

  7. Love these ideas....and the possibilities are endless! Thanks for the idea!

    Mind Sparks

  8. These came out so great! I can't wait to try this when we study Revolutionaries. MLK and Ruby Bridges would make a great poem for two voices! Perfect way to show their new learning.
    Pinkadots Elementary

  9. What a great idea for character traits!! And what perfect timing as this is what my class is focused on right now- Thanks!!

  10. Wow, I LOVE this! We're about to start our poetry unit this next week and I was looking for something fun to do to kick it off! Thanks so much for sharing. It sounds like you all had a ton of fun!!!
    Mrs. Bentin's Blackboard

  11. Wow! I am so impressed with their work. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I love these poems! Your examples are fabulous. One way I use them is to have students compare their daily lives with that of an immigrant child. I use the book Immigrant Kid by Russell Freedman to build background knowledge.

  13. I like the poems. I may only be in 5th grade, but I know good poems when I see them!


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