Introduce poetry by ranking and discussing 5 student-friendly poems. I have included discussion questions for the poems:
"The Day the Saucers Came" by Neil Gaiman
"Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou
"Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost
"The Rose That Grew from Concrete" by Tupac Shakur
"Our Other Sister" by Jeffrey Harrison
I didn't include the poems for copyright reasons, but they are easy to find and print from other sources.
I give students a copy of each poem and either play audio from YouTube or read it myself. For each poem, I have students jot down their questions, what they notice, and what they like/dislike. If I have a class that does great with in-class discussions, I just have them write in the margins. If I know they will need help getting started, I use this question sheet.
After listening to each poem, I have students rank the poems 1-5 of what they like the most to the least. We compile rankings and discuss what we liked/disliked about each and the world of each poem.
From there, I have students discuss what makes a poem a poem.
I've done this lesson with advanced and general classes, and it is a good introduction to poetry for both. I give my general classes more guidance with their comments than my advanced classes.
(YouTube note: Neil Gaiman does a great reading of his "The Day the Saucers Came" and Nicki Minaj reads "Still I Rise" well.)
This is one of my favorite lessons!