Poetry Month Recap: 3 Reasons to Teach With Poetry
30 Apr, 2015
Poems are easy to understand. Or hard. They're deep and profound. Or simple. They're sophisticated. Or low brow. Poems sneak up on you. Or they shout in your face.
Poems are welcoming. Or they bar the door.
Poems offer something for everyone, and there are as many ways to use poetry in the classroom as there are poems. But why use them? What difference do they make? Here are three big reasons why poems should be front and center in your classroom:
- Listening to and reading poetry is guaranteed to build reading skills, from new and emergent readers to fluent ones. When one reads a poem, one reads and rereads. One practices. One parses the language for understanding. One comprehends deeply. A student cannot not build reading skills while working with a poem. Go ahead, oh poetry reader. Just try not to build your skills. I dare you.
- Poetry also provides an excellent opportunity to build listening and oral language skills. The structure and length of much poetry make it ideal to practice for recitation. They also make poetry ideal in our modern world of snippets and sound bites. The language, emotion, and mood of a poem—recited well—cannot help but grab the listener and force him or her to attend. And practicing to recite a poem well cannot help but build the necessary speaking skills that are so relevant in today’s push for college and career readiness.
- Often called the only kinesthetic form of literature, poetry works the whole body. Really! The rhythm and cadence of a poem read aloud is like music in the body. Add claps, taps, beats, and vocal “hits,” and you’ve got a medium that grabs every listener—and the speaker too! Like a heartbeat, poetry pulses and moves and brings the listener—and speaker—to life.
- ( Just for Good Measure ) Since there are countless reasons why poetry should be used in the classroom, let’s add one more for good measure. Perhaps the greatest thing about poetry is that there is a poem for everyone! Whether a classic from Shakespeare, a modern classic from Seuss, or the immortal recent poetry of Swift (Taylor, that is), there is a poem to appeal to every taste and every interest. Poems are found in television jingles, pop music lyrics, children’s books, and the work of masters throughout time. Challenge your students to hunt for poems in their day-to-day lives and see what they find. “There is beauty, love, a song, a curse / Found between the lines of verse!”
(Okay, that’s not really a quote—I just made it up—but it works, doesn’t it? Three cheers for poetry!)
What are the most effective ways you use poetry in the classroom?
Check out these engaging poetry resources!