Posted in Classroom Ideas, Teaching Techniques

Poetry

Growing up poetry was never my favorite thing to read. I liked Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky, but in my mind I also never considered their writing poems. What they wrote was fun. It made me laugh and made me think. Poetry was what I read in school. It was boring and meant virtually nothing to me. I read it because I had to, not because I wanted to. And for a really long time that was the only relationship I had with poetry.

Things started to change my senior year of college. I found poems that sparked something inside me. Stray Dog Cabaret was a collection of poems by Russian authors, and reading those poems something clicked. Poetry, I realized, could be magical. Fitting words together like puzzle pieces could be something really really cool. I loved reading and I love writing and I loved this new way this all fit together.

Even though I had discovered how amazing poetry could be, I didn’t run out and buy a ton of poetry anthologies. I didn’t know where to start. Poetry had been foreign to me for so long that even though I had a new appreciation for it I let it stay a pretty big mystery. I didn’t know what else to do or how to do anything else.

That has started to change. In my job as a literacy tutor I have the opportunity to work with some amazing Language Arts teachers. One of the bigger pushes at the middle school level has been to incorporate more poetry. I’ve been able to see how poetry can be made fun and accessible and how my students can respond and connect to it. I’ve seen them love poetry and struggle with poetry, but it’s been made much more accessible to them than I feel it was made to me when  I was going through school.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately collecting poems that I like. I’ve been combing through Goodreads and looking for other sources. I want to make poetry accessible to all of my students. I want to show them that it doesn’t have to be something that is stuffy and inaccessible. Poetry is alive and well; we as teachers just need to find ways to teach our students that.

BB

Posted in Classroom Ideas

Sharing Words

I love words. I love collecting them and fitting them together. I love seeing how other people fit them together. I love seeing the messages they can send and the power they can hold. Words are powerful, and it’s important to remember that and to teach students that.

I read this fantastic article on Edutopia. It’s titled “The Perfect Classroom”, and it was all about a teacher who brought her class together and had them all shared words. Some people shared poems. Other people shared quotes or song lyrics or phrases they’d heard.

To me, it sounds awesome. It sounds like one of the most amazing things I could do in my future classroom.

You can read the article here. And as always, tell me what you think.

BB

Posted in Food for Thought

Poetry

Not unlike the classics, I’ve had and still have a complex and complicated relationship with poetry. While the classics at least intrigued me in an abstract way, poetry was my nemesis.

I didn’t like poetry, understand poetry, or see the importance of poetry. I hated analyzing poetry because I never saw the hidden meanings; I still often don’t. I firmly believe that sometimes a chicken is just a chicken.

My last semester at UConn I read The Stray Dog Cabaret – Russian poetry. And suddenly something inside me clicked. The beauty of poetry became apparent. Hidden meanings still elude me, but I saw why poetry was important, why it spoke to the soul. I began writing poetry successfully. A whole new world was open to me.

I want to help my students reach that moment. Some will and some might not, and I accept that. But I want to show them that poetry is beautiful and a wonderful means of expression. I want their eyes to open like mine did. Not all poetry will click and connect with everyone. I understand that. I know it was true for me. But I also believe that every student has a poem or poems they can connect  with. I know that was true for me.

BB