National Poetry Month

Poetry provides a wonderful way to differentiate instruction in your classroom.  For example, Crecia C. Swaim of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute writes,

How do you meet the diverse learning needs of every student in your middle school world languages classroom? How do you ensure that the newer or struggling student is able to comprehend, participate, and communicate, while the more seasoned or able student is also adequately challenged? How do you place vocabulary in a context that students will remember in a visceral sense, so that they will be able to automatically retrieve it when needed?

I propose the use of poetry, in particular the reading, memorization, and recitation of poetry, as an invaluable method to accomplish these tasks in such a way that students will both enjoy what they are doing and experience a sense of confidence and success at being able to memorize pieces of French poetry.

French language audio book and podcast author Camille Chevalier Karfis says that in France, children memorize and recite classic works of poetry from the age of eight years old. Then beginning at age fourteen, they start to analyze that poetry (Karfis). I think this is a great way to build a foundation which students can then revisit and use to develop analytical skills, for an ultimately deeper understanding of the poetic work.

I have found that by using poetry and song created around a theme, students are able to process usable chunks of language more fluidly than by just learning isolated vocabulary out of context. It is also a way to supplement paired conversation practice while keeping students listening to and speaking the language together.”

You may be teaching poetry, the reading, understanding, interpretation and writing of poetry, or you may be suggesting to your students that they use their own poetry to describe their understanding of an assignment that is not specifically on poetry.

There are as many definitions of poetry as there probably are poets.

As Mark Flanagan, contemporary literature guide on, states:

One may use prose to narrate, describe, argue, or define. There are equally numerous reasons for writing poetry. But poetry, unlike prose, often has an underlying and over-arching purpose that goes beyond the literal. Poetry is evocative. It typically evokes in the reader an intense emotion: joy, sorrow, anger, catharsis, love… Alternatively, poetry has the ability to surprise the reader with an Ah Ha! Experience — revelation, insight, further understanding of elemental truth and beauty. Like Keats said:

“Beauty is truth. Truth, beauty.

That is all ye know on Earth and all ye need to know.”

How’s that? Do we have a definition yet?

Poetry is artistically rendering words in such a way as to evoke intense emotion or an Ah Ha! experience from the reader.

April is celebrate Poetry month.  Enjoy!

Visit this site for a very complete lesson plan that differentiates teaching poetry.

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