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Assigned Readings:

ALL Read Simmons articleWhy Teaching Poetry is so important.

Read selected articles in March 2015 edition of English Journal available on the NCTE web site

ALL read:

Thomas Speaking Truth to Power

Vaughn EJ in Focus
Ainsworth Speaking My Mind

CHOOSE one: Emert, Schrauben, Kennedy, Hannaford

Reader response #5: What? So What? Now what?

What? Take notes about all of the poetry texts. Write down ideas for two columns as
you read. Be sure to have at least 1-2 ideas from each article in each column. You can
just jot notes and phrases or you can write quotations. CITE your notes with author and
page #. Organize your notes into two columns:
Why Teaching Poetry is So Important-Simmons

Cut up lines and phrases from poems
and having students (esp. good for
ESL students) create collages in which
they identify adjectives, adverbs,
alliteration, other figures of speech

As discussed in the text, studying the

misuse of grammar can show students
how exhausting run-on sentences can
be and how clichs weaken an
argument. (p. 3)

Poetry enables teachers to teach their
students how to write, read, and
understand any text. Poetry can give
students a healthy outlet for surging
emotions. Reading original poetry
aloud in class can foster trust and
empathy in the classroom community,
while also emphasizing speaking and
listening skills that are often neglected
in high school literature classes (p.2)
Students can learn how to utilize
grammar in their own writing by
studying how poets doand do not
abide by traditional writing rules in
their work. (p. 3)

So what?
I completely agree with Simmons in the respect that poetry is indeed important to teach and that the
education landscapedramatically deemphasizes creative expression in favor of expository writing
and prioritizes the analysis of non-literary texts. (Simmons, 2) I also agree with Simmons on the subject

of writing and reading poetry can be an emotional outlet for students as well as foster a sense of
community in a classroom. Teachers should not have to negotiate their values with what is stated in the
common core, especially when it comes to poetry. Aside from an emotional outlet, poetry is a great
gateway literature that can introduce and encourage students to a type of literature they enjoy, and in
doing so, may encourage them to read others they would not have previously tried.
Now what?
In my own classroom, I would find common core standards that I could align with a poetry lesson, while
simultaneously leaving room and time for students to find a creative outlet. To foster students love for
reading, I could attach other readings that have the same topic or idea perhaps as that of a poem we have
enjoyed in class for them to make connections and better enjoy.
Speaking Truth to Power- Thomas

Students can foster artistic creativity

through writing and analyzing poetry
but not only that of the famous
poets, but also lyrics or artists or songs
they enjoy, such as Thomas using the
lyrics of The Violent Femmes and
R.E.M. to get students engaged and
interested in poetry.


And for the students we teach, the

world is more than intellect and
knowledge; for those students,
especially teenagers, feeling is first.
That is often the domain of poetry and
poetsbut is also something too often
ignored and marginalized by formal
education. (Thomas, 91).

So what?
Being that teachers spend much more time with their students than even the students
own family, it is important to understand and foster students ability to cope with
emotions and to make their schoolwork that which contains meaning. I agree with
Thomas that feeling and emotions are indeed first, no matter what age the students are.
If a students emotions can be fostered with literary works, students are more apt to be
engaged and to achieve.
Now what?
Again, I would allow students to relate a poem that speaks to them on an emotional level
and allow them to relate that to other topics being covered as well as the common core
standards that must be covered in the class. Allowing students to write, utilizing the tools
theyre learning, but about how they feel will undoubtedly encourage them to express
themselves while also covering the material the instructor needs to in class.

EJ in Focus- Vaughn

Vaughn provides a checklist for

readers of poetry to use in order to
experience poetry, not analyze it.


Poetry terms and techniquesare

clouding the vision of students who no
longer understand that they are
supposed to experience poetry, not
analyze it. (Vaughn, 17).

So what?
I agree with Vaughn pertaining to his point that poems are being torn apart in classes in
terms of teachers having students analyze them for figurative and parts of speech, for
the meaning, etc. Students do not have the opportunity to enjoy this art form for they
are too busy having to skewer poems. After having done this for so long, students may
not be able to approach literature as a work of art but as text that is to be analyzed and
stripped into pieces and parts until a meaning can be found. This is not the way in which
students should approach all text- especially not that of poetry, an art form.
Now what?
Alongside the texts I would have my students read in class, I would also have them read
texts solely for enjoyment, whether they be short stories, poems, lyrics, etc. The literary
tools used in poems would be analyzed as they are required to be covered, but not
before students have the opportunity to read for enjoyment. I would do so using a
checklist like that of Vaughns. I could even create a rubric out of it that would not be
used for a grade, of course, but so students may analyze themselves if they are reading
for pleasure.


Suggestions from the texts about

how to teach poetrypoems to use,
lessons, practical ideas for teaching

Ideas from the texts about the value
of poetry and the many
purposes for teaching poetry
in secondary ELA

Speaking My Mind-Ainsworth

By relating a poem students enjoy to a

work of art that may seem like it is
inapplicable or unrelated to their own
lives allows them to be more engaged
and to better understand. Ainsworth
does an activity where the authors/
artists names as well as poem/ song
titles are covered, and a few lines or
so are presented to the students. The
students must then guess whether the
line is from a song, or from a poem


Students can learn to appreciate other

literary works and better understand
them through the reading of poetry,
and its different forms

So what?
Selecting a specific poem or poet, such as Millay in Ainsworth case, that is approachable
and relatable to students I greatly believe allows them to embrace poetry, as well as
other forms of literature, with more open-mindedness. Any kind of direct connection a
student has between their social or day-to-day lives with their schoolwork will surely
engage them and perhaps better allow them to tap into prior knowledge.
Now what?
I really loved Ainsworths activity with the song lyrics on p. 111. Songs are definitely a
literary medium all students can relate to, regardless of taste in music. This allows a
direct connection to be made with something students love and poetry, allowing them to
realize it already affects them and has an impact on their day-to-day lives. By relating
poetry to lyrical works, students are more apt to be engaged.
Creating Space For Poetry-Schrauben

Schrauben used five types of authors

crafts called brushstrokes which
students were asked to not only locate
in poetry as well as other literature,
but to incorporate into their own
poetry. Using these brushstrokes as
well as poetry written by other teens
and in popular teen literature at the
time allows and encourages students
to be confident and engaged in their


Teaching poetryrequires more than

cramming it into one unit once a year
or only reviewing it during specific
curricular unitsKnowledge about
specific writing strategiescan be
applied to other writing genres and
subject areasCreating a space to
teach poetry is critical especially for
students who do not consider
themselves writersand for teachers
who feel constrained by increasing
curricular standards and demands.

(Schrauben, 22)

So what?
I really liked the term brushstrokes for the grammatical skills being taught for the term
portrayed writing as they art it is, not the systematic, formulaic process it is sometimes
portrayed as in schools. Incorporating poems written by students of similar age to those
in the class was also, I believe, a great asset in getting students engaged, just as well as
the currently popular literature. Allowing students to read not only poems by famous
poets, but also by students just like themselves was a great idea as far as motivating
and reassuring them of their capabilities as writers.
Now what?
I would definitely use the brushstrokes approach that was taken with the students in
the article. Not only where standards being covered as well as poetry, but encouraging
students to be confident in themselves and confident in their writing I believe is largely
important. Incorporating other popular works among a specific generation of students
allows them to make connections to readings outside of class as well as what they are
reading in class, and so helps expand their knowledge and abilities over a wide
spectrum, let alone also giving them the ability not only to identify these brushstrokes,
but to also write with them.