“I’m a poet, and I didn’t even know it!”

Poetry…not necessarily the most popular unit in an English class.

In fact, the scene that plays in my mind goes a little bit like this:

Teacher: “Okay class, today we are going to start the poetry unit.”
Class: “UGGGHHHHHH”

At least, that is how I’ve always known it.

It’s not that I don’t like poetry, but I’ve never liked it IN SCHOOL. Year after year, English teachers try to push the poetry unit on their students. Year after year, these teachers fail. After working on poetry in class the past couple of days, reading Love that Dog by Sharon Creech, and Chapter 2 of the Ramsay text, I see where my previous grade school teachers have made mistakes.

First, I think it is important to expose students to a variety of poetry. They should read poems about different subjects, of different styles, and with different meanings. Too often do teachers tend to push one form above others, and not only does this get monotonous, but students are missing out on so much more. Furthermore, in Love that Dog, the Mrs. Stretchberry does not force Jack to write, share, or display his poetry. However, she does show interest and enthusiasm in doing these things, and this gives Jack comfort and a desire to write. Once again, teachers often make assignments that require students to share their writing, or publicly display a piece of poetry. Students may feel uncomfortable about sharing any piece of writing, but with such sensitive and fearful feelings surrounding poetry in particular, they may feel even worse about it. Teachers should not force this.

Another important point of poetry was brought up in the text book. Ramsay discusses her class’s sudden enthusiasm in poetry after receiving a response from their e-pals. Through communication with a group of students in a different region of the country, things they were not previously familiar with became a new topic of interest. With the new desire for discovery, the students incorporated these things into their poetry unit, and then used technology to share it. Of course, they would have to have prior schema regarding the composition of poetry, but now they have something they actually want to write about. Ramsay even included research and inquiry into these lessons. I think this a key point for teachers to remember: students will surpass any expectations when they are following a passion.

I really liked the activity we did in class with the poetry bags. I thought this was a great way to incorporate each student’s individual personal lives into a future original poem. Because each bag would be related to each student’s hobby of choice, they would enjoy writing about it. I can definitely see myself using that in the future!

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