Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Exploring Poetry Through Stations

Each year I like to have a short three week poetry unit as we approach Spring Break.  During this unit we don't focus on writing poetry, instead we focus on understanding poetry.  In order to understand poetry students need to review or learn some of the elements of figurative language.

I find that I love far too many poems and poets that it's hard to pick just a few.  I also know that my top picks might not appeal to my students.  Instead I try to choose a variety of poems to focus on specific elements.
For Rhyme and Rhyme Scheme I like to start with a poem that is very literal.  "There's This That I Like About Hockey, My Lad" By:John Kieran is a favorite when we are looking for the boys in class. We also point out alliteration with the words maul and maim; popular pastime; sturdier sport.

When we compare structure and identify Extended Metaphor I love to use "Mother to Son" and "Dreams" by Langston Hughes.  I really love this Youtube video of "Mother to Son" with two readers helping the students to understand the metaphor. This also helps us to identify dialect.

With my advanced students we look at several of Shakespeare's sonnets and study Iambic Pentameter.  We always start by stomping out meter. This idea has been around for a while.  I even got our social studies teacher to compete with me in a poetry slam.  The students had a blast listening to their teachers completely dissing one another.

Ms. Kimberly thinks she can write sonnets
Perhaps first she should master history
Topics that make you just want to vomit
What are those big heads?  it’s a mystery
Then she tries to bring in mathematics
Maybe she should teach elementary
In steam she attempts space aeronautics
History is just supplementary
She thinks she’s a do-it-all master teach
She tries to make long dead guys seem worth-while
Tell her she’s the best and she’ll give a speech
Don’t make her mad or she will be puerile
You would think that I hate her in the end
How is it that she became my best friend?

I love to spend two days at some point during the unit looking at many different elements! This is why I choose to utilize Poetry Stations. I love learning what poems, lines, or phrases the students are drawn to in the various stations.  I have even seen the most reluctant writers really blossom with Found Poetry and form poetry such as Diamante and Haiku poetry.  I have modified these stations for a variety of purposes over the years.  Two years ago I used two days of stations to preview the content we would be covering.  This year I used these two days as review at the end of the unit before our final test. Last year, I even found these stations especially useful during testing when I had a random two hour class period with a different group each day.  

Thanks for reading today!  Let me know in the comments below how you would use or have used Poetry Stations!

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