3 Tips to teach poetry like a pro
National Poetry Month is here.
I used to be hesitant to teach poetry. To be honest, I still am sometimes. But I have learned a few things about teaching poetry that have transformed my life. Scaffold, scaffold, scaffold.
1) Scaffold, scaffold, scaffold.
I think this one falls by the wayside sometimes with upper grades. I know I personally would forget sometimes that not all students understand how to analyze or close read. In fact, one of the clearest and most embarrassing moments in high school for me was when I realized that I didn’t know what on earth grammatical clauses were until I Googled them. Let’s just say Grammar 101 in my English BA was rough.
So how do you scaffold in high school?
Minilessons are transformative, short lessons that can be delivered with other lessons or on their own. For example, a quick synopsis of what allusion is, and then dissecting a poem for allusion and only allusion. Like in my lesson analyzing Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb.
2) Use music
If you’ve never tried teaching iambic pentameter with Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” you are missing out. Teaching poetry through music is one of the clearest ways to teach students about rhythm and meter, and stress to them how carefully selected words can transform the meaning of a text as a whole.
You can try writing out excerpts from poems and songs and have students guess if its a poem or a song.
Or you can have students create a song in iambic pentameter.
3) Use Stations
Long time readers of this blog know how much I champion stations: they’re just that good. Learning stations break up analysis of poems into smaller, manageable chunks. On top of that, learning stations have the added bonus of peer collaboration. And even if you are teaching remotely, you can still use stations! Create a Google Slides presentation with your stations and assign students into breakout groups to go through the Slides, you can then have them input their answers in a Google Form.
Have you used any of these tips in your classroom? Comment below or tag my on Instagram @yaddysroom to be featured!