“Poetry has become one of the most under utilized, and underestimated mediums in modern culture” K.M. Berkley
For the average ELA teacher poetry is something taught if lucky as a 2 week course in April during the “poetry month”. Poetry has been stamped as the ugly stepchild and does not have the value it used to have because “it’s not on the test.”
Alas poetry has come to fight back.
“Reading and writing poetry can reduce stress and feelings of isolation.” (Maccannon, 2020)
In Simmons article Why Teaching Poetry is so Important he highlights the importance of the mental benefits to teaching poetry. So often it is said that there isn’t time for poetry in the classroom. But the urgency is now advocating for our students’ mental well-being, especially post-covid isolation. Students have a surge of emotions and need a healthy outlet.
So why not poetry across all contents? Why not now?
Here are some of the examples I have brought out of the ELA classroom and into the content area classroom.
Oftentimes when I introduce a new topic students have time to become “quick experts.” We use mini-research cycles to create background knowledge on the content vocabulary we are working on. But what do we do with our new information? Personification poems! Creating a personification poem and giving the voice to whatever topic we are discussing, students show depth and understanding to their learning. It could also be a great vocabulary inquisition lesson as well as practice of giving voice. (See below)
Black Out Poems:
Not a new strategy and one I have seen done often… But how could this be used in a practical way in the content areas? One idea comes to mind and I was actually really pleased how this turned out. Black out poetry would be a great way to summarize text and identify author’s purpose. Students honing in on key vocabulary and concepts helps deepen the students understanding of the content. It also helps the students identify main ideas, text structure and important details of the text. Going through a text and highlighting the important statements of the article and turning their key findings into a blackout poem.
There is an online black out poetry website for students to use. They can copy and paste passages into the document and easily create.
Two voice poems are similar to a personification poem with the twist of two contrasting voices.
It could lend itself to a lot of math and science content with some ideas: multiplication vs division, food chains vs food web, fractions vs decimals, comets vs meteors, mars vs earth. Whatever you choose to do, two voices or even three can be a great alternative to the traditional Venn diagram and open up a world where your students have a voice.
There is a depth to poetry which allows students to feel freedom in finding their voice and expressing themselves. This doesn’t have to just be for a couple weeks a year. Poetry should flow from all content areas. In stressful times maybe we need a little poetry to lift us up.
Want more ideas about writing in the content areas? Here are two articles I have written in the past to keep you going!
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