Much of our focus in classrooms is on "following the rules," whether school rules, spelling rules, math rules, etc. It is refreshing to deliberately break some rules. Also, permission and encouragement to break rules can actually ramp up creativity since when a person is rule-focused there is a lot of fear of doing something "wrong." Fear is antithetical to creativity.

There are books that are great for introducing rule breaking, such as the No, David! books by David Shannon, Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak, as well as books that break the rules (Don't Read This Book).

After reading one or more of these books, then you can ask about how David (or some other character) would write a poem. What rules would David break? The interesting thing is that you can find out what students understand about poetry by asking this question and this form of assessment is way more fun that most assessments.

Ask students to write poems that break rules, offering them the opportunity to work individually or in groups.

Breaking the rules is also a way to get around writer's block. If people are struggling with writing an assignment, ask them to write their first draft as badly as possible. Then once their ideas are on paper they can refine them based on organization and/or surface features.

Here are some rule-breaking poems as examples: