SEEKING POEMS, SHARING CONNECTIONS

3. Student Presentations

Source of Poems:

Resources provided by the teacher and/or school library — volumes of poems, poetry anthologies, Internet, etc.

Teachers' Reflections:

This lesson will introduce students to poetry by asking them to find a poem that speaks directly to them in some way. This kind of introduction should allow students time for exploration, response, and reflection. It will present the art as something worth reading and enjoying outside the classroom and as something valuable to share with others. Allowing students to explore poems independently and informally may help them appreciate more structured or formal poetry lessons. Through the process, the students may define for themselves what poetry is. The lesson will also strive to foster a respectful environment for student expression. The most important element is to encouraging students' personal connections to poetry, first through modeling favorite poem presentations and then by asking them to share ideas with each other.

Teaching Ideas

Assignment:

In the classroom, give a model for sharing favorite poems, demonstrating poetry's significant place in various people's lives. The teacher, a student who knows or is attached to a poem, a parent or someone else in the school community may share a poem with the class and talk about what it means to them. Showing some Favorite Poem videos will also be useful in inspiring the students' choice of poems.

As a homework assignment, students will select a favorite poem. Students should have access to a variety of poetry books and anthologies. Allow ample time to select a poem. They should bring the poem to class written out by hand or typed (no photocopies or Internet printouts).

In class, give students ten minutes to write a reflection on the poems they've brought, each answering the question: Why is this poem significant to me?

Choices:

  • Have pairs of students trade poems, without sharing their thoughts beforehand. Ask students to read a partner's poem and write a reflection, then discuss both poems with each other.

  • Students pair up. One student reads aloud his/her poem several times. The listener writes or discusses his/her reaction to the poem. Roles are reversed and process is repeated. In groups of four, students share and discuss poems. The group chooses one poem that they would like to work with in the future for further exploration.

  • Students share poems and reflections first with just a partner or small group. Then, all students read their poems to the class and share some thoughts (not reading from a written reflection, just talking to the class). Any student who didn't bring a poem should read aloud a partner's poem.

Other ideas:

A student reads a poem several times while other students silently dramatize the action of the poem.

Students make drawings in response to the poems and share them with the class.

All students write a short reaction on an index card about another student's reading of a poem and his/her discussion of its significance.

Teaching Connections:

  • Publishing: either create an anthology of favorite class poems or post them on a bulletin board.

  • History: activities could connect to poems to specific time periods.

  • Creative writing: beginning the process of writing one's own poems.

Lesson by Tamara Dalton (Needham High School, Needham, MA), Rosemarie DeFelice (Chelsea High School, Chelsea, MA), Virginia Dent (Lansing High School, Lansing, NY), and Frances Moyer (Newton South High School, Newton, MA)

 
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