Do you find yourself hating poetry as much as your students sometimes? This post is definitely for you!
Yesterday I posted this image in an English teacher FB group and asked what was something that is “shameful” for them to admit as an English teacher. I offered mine first. I have never watched nor read Acts IV and V of Julius Caesar, but I have taught Act I-III for a couple of years now!
That thread ended up being amazing and so many teachers found some really great comradery in things they liked, disliked, or even down right hated.
One thing I picked up on though was the vast number of teachers who kept saying how they hated poetry- reading and teaching. I. HEAR. YOU! Today I am discussing the top 3 ways I like to make poetry actually interesting not only for MYSELF as a teacher, but also for my students. Hopefully this takes some of the cringe out of poetry for all involved and if you are interested in getting started right away please feel free join the monthly newsletter and grab your FREEBIE Instagram Poetry Intro and Activity today as well!
We are told that we have to (and that we have to teach) all this stuff about meter, rhyme, measure, and dozens of other poetic terms I honestly don’t know or really care to know. We’re told that if we don’t all see the same thing in an ambiguous work that we are wrong, but then we tell kids the great thing about ELA is that we all bring our own perspectives and can see different things in the same work. Is it no wonder most of us hate poetry by the time we reach adulthood?!
Maybe it’s time for a shift. With my 10th graders, I often love to look at song lyrics in place of poetry. However, when we do finally look just at poetry, I take a far more modern approach by looking at three modern takes on the genre: slam poetry, spoken word poetry, and Instagram poems.
- Slam Poetry! Slam poetry can have that flowy rhyming beat to it….. or not. The focus is more so on the message that is being spoken. No need to get bogged down with rhyming schemes unless you WANT to!
- Spoken Word Poetry! Spoken Word is slightly different as it often involves a little more theatrics/images/videos/movement. It takes you on a journey and often works in free verse.
- Instapoems! Instagram poetry is often a favorite of my students as it is meant to be short and heavily visual.
Since the kids are no longer worried about meter, rhyme, and every other scary poetic term out there; they focus on the message and the words. They focus on finding their voice and sharing it with the world. Isn’t that what we ultimately want?
I highly encourage you to step outside the world of dry poetic dissection and try out at least one new poetic form if you haven’t already! If you are interested in my FREE Instagram poetry lesson and activity, grab it here! You can also receive my monthly newsletter where I share tips on sharing World literature, cultural studies, real world project learning, and much more each month! Want to go ahead and start exploring Slam poetry and spoken word poetry with your students today? Check out my Modern Poetry product here!