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Elementary Poetry Contest

Grades 2-5 Poetry Contest

ITBE 16th Annual Elementary Poetry Contest

2020- 2021


This year, Illinois TESOL-BE is sponsoring its 17th statewide Elementary Poetry Contest. This is a great opportunity for your students to let their creativity shine, communicate powerfully in the English language, and express the importance of their own culture/cultural experiences. Through poetry, elementary students are exposed to literary elements in a meaningful and creative way. Teachers of students learning English can use poetry across the curriculum as an assessment to demonstrate topic knowledge, use of language that describes and use of sentence frames to write poetry.  

Starting now, let your students and families know about this opportunity, the rules and deadlines. At ITBE we can’t wait to read all the wonderful poems that this 2021 will bring! We encourage you to have as many of your students as possible participate. Sponsoring teachers do NOT need to be a member of ITBE. 


Entries must be postmarked by Monday, January 8, 2021


Please send all entries to:

Brittany Smith
Lisle Elementary School
5801  Westview Lane, Lisle, IL 60532


Elementary Poetry Contest Awards for Students:                                                                      

Please Note Changes to Poetry Categories

Poetry categories that will remain the same are:

  • Bio-Poem
  • Haiku
  • Diamante
  • Acrostic


  • First and second place winners from each grade level and category will receive a Participation certificate .
  • One Best of the Best winners will be chosen per Grade Level will receive a $25 gift certificate. 
  • Sponsoring teachers of the award winners will also receive a participation certificate. 



2020-2021 POETRY CONTEST CEREMONY: This will be held VIRTUALLY! Winning students, sponsoring teachers, and family members will be welcome to attend. The date, time, and link will be shared out shortly.


 Poetry Contest Guidelines and Resources 

Who can submit entries? Who can enter the contest? 

  1. The contest is open to any teacher that works in the state of Illinois.  The sponsoring teacher does NOT need to be a   member of ITBE.

  2.  As in previous years, the student must be receiving ELL or bilingual services during the 2019-2020 school year.  The   sponsoring teacher is the person who provides the child’s services.

  3.  Teachers will be given a rubric, score sheet, &, for some poems, worksheets.

  4. Teachers will be expected to pick their top 5 poems for each genre of poetry.

  5. If a teacher teaches more than one grade then he/she can submit poems for each grade she teaches.  (For example, Mrs. Remigio teaches 2nd & 3rd graders. She can submit 10 Acrostic poems (5 for 2nd grade & 5 poems for 3rd grade.  Mrs. Remigio may also submit 10 Bio poems, 10 Diamante poems, 10 Haiku poems, & 10 Acrostic poems.)

  • Contestant must be a student who is:
    • A full-time student enrolled in grades 2–5 in the state of Illinois
    • A non-native speaker of English currently enrolled in a TBE/TPI program
    • The contest is open to all teachers that work in an Illinois school. 
    • Form: Students are to write an original Acrostic, Bio, Diamante, Haiku poem. 

FORMAT: All entries must be POSTMARKED NO LATER THAN January 8th, 2021. 

    Font:  Any style or size. The poem can be handwritten. It must fit on one 81⁄2” x 11” piece of paper. Entries must be     submitted with a complete cover sheet. 
    The cover sheet must include:
  • the student’s first and last name
  • grade level
  • home language
  • type of poem
  • title of the poem
  • the name of the sponsoring teacher
  • the name of the school, school address
  • phone number.
  • (The only identifying information that may be allowed on the poem is the contestant’s FIRST name –if     the student includes this as part of the poem title).
                                                                        Cover Sheet PDF Template

Type of Poem: 

  • Acrostic PoemWrite one acrostic poem using one or 2 words as the title. The content of the poem must be about an aspect of the student’s culture or his/her perspective of American culture. 
  • Bio Poem– Students will write a poem using the prompts provided on the forms. 
  • Diamante PoemWrite one Diamante poem that compares an aspect of American culture to the student’s culture. 
  • Haiku Poem Write one Haiku poem in which the content of the poem describes nature within the student’s first country or his or her perspective of nature in the United States. 

Conditions: Failure to abide by any of these rules and conditions will result in the disqualification of the student’s poem from the competition. 
  • Each student may submit only one poem. 
  • The sponsoring teacher does NOT need to be a current member of Illinois TESOLBE. 
  • All poems become the property of Illinois TESOLBE. 
  • All poems must be original material of the author. 
  • The poem is based on prior knowledge or experiences. 
  • No teacher editing. 
  • Computer editing (grammar check) will not be allowed, except for spell check. 
  • Sponsoring teacher must be the teacher that works with the student in a TBE/TPI program. 
  • Teacher may submit 5 entries per poetry genre, per grade level. 


--- JUDGING ---

  1. Each category of poetry will have an assessment rubric & scoring sheet the sponsoring teachers will pick their top 5 poems (per genre, per grade level) that will represent their class in the contest. (For example, Mrs. Gigous teaches 2nd & 3rd graders. She can submit 10 Acrostic poems (5 for 2nd grade & 5 poems for 3rd grade. Mrs. Gigous may also submit 10 Bio poems, 10 Diamante poems, 10 Haiku poems.) 

  2. Entries will be judged based on the criteria listed for each category. See the rubrics for details. 

  3. Teachers will be asked to pick their top 5 entries (per genre, per grade level) for each category and then submit them to ITBE. Teachers do not need to submit the scoring sheet. This tool is available to help rank the students and select the top five of each poetry category. 

  4. One poetry cover sheet must accompany each entry. Please be sure to write the title of the poem on the cover sheet. This will help to identify the poem and avoid confusion. If the current cover sheet is not provided then ITBE has the right to disqualify the student entry. 

  5. Deadline: All entries must be POSTMARKED NO LATER THAN January 8, 2021. Before mailing the entries: Please paper clip each entry sheet on top of the appropriate poem and place in the envelope. You may send multiple entries in one envelope. Be sure to include the title of the poem on the cover sheet to help avoid confusion. Please do not staple the documents. include a personal list of all the entries he/she is entering (see form included with the Cover Sheet).

Below you can find the coversheet, worksheets, rubrics and scoring sheets that you can use to support your students in writing and submitting their poetry.

Cover Sheet PDF  Acrostic Poem PDF  Bio Poem PDF  Diamante Poem  Haiku Poem PDF