I use poetry in the classroom on a daily basis, I know a lot of us do. I alternate between silly ones like Silverstein or Prelutsky and serious ones like Frost. One of my favorite poets is Langston Hughes and it fits right into Black History Month to study his work. The first one we did is called Mother to Son and it's about a mother telling his son that life for her "ain't been no crystal stair". Her life has "had tacks in it, boards torn up, places where there's no carpet". Basically its message is don't give up. No matter how hard life seems, go on because life isn't always going to be perfect.
I asked the kids to do their own versions of this choral phrase and write "Life for me ain't no...." what? Something that was important to them. Here's what they came up with :
Gotta love when their favorite ideal best thing in the world is....class! :)