For Teachers Who Hate Teaching Poetry: Teach Poetry Emulation, Here's How...
As a teacher who loves teaching writing it is hard for me to admit I don't love teaching poetry. But here it goes...I don't enjoy teaching poetry.
But I can't just skip teaching poetry! That would be writing teacher sacrilege!
Instead I teach students how to emulate/imitate poetry. It is a pretty simple process really. Just give your students access to lots of poetry. You could choose poems that are structured similarly if you want to teach your students, say, the format of a sonnet or you could leave it wide open and have a wide variety of structures/formats available.
Once you have lots and lots of poems, teach students the step by step process outlined below! Make sure to model the process with a poem or two of your choosing. Students will love to see what you come up with! Check out my emulation of Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein at the end of this post. Once you try it you'll realize, it is actually quite fun to emulate poems.
Where the School Day Ends
There is a place where the school day ends
and before the homework begins,
and there the sun shines yellow and bright,
and there the grass flows into my sight,
and there the tired child begins to rest
away from constant teacher commands,
to contemplate the shape of fluffy clouds.
Let us leave school where the pencils are broke
and the dark hallways wind and bend.
Past the principal's office where flies buzz
and the cafeteria, where potatoes grow fuzz.
We shall walk at a fast pace
to a place where the school day ends.
Yes we'll walk with a fast pace
out of this dreary school place.
For the children yearn for that precious moment
when yes the school day will end.
You'll notice in the above emulation that I both followed and broke the patterns and structure of the poem. You can have students follow the various structures of the poem (stanzas, rhyming scheme, tone, point of view, poetic devices) strictly and just change the words or allow a little more freedom to play with and add to the structure. It is totally up to you!
About the Author
Amanda Werner is a full time middle school English teacher in the Bay Area. She has been teaching for ten years and still feels like a novice. Every year is a unique and exciting challenge to inspire a new group of students in becoming avid readers and writers. Amanda reads educational literature voraciously and writes about the teaching of writing on her website amandawritenow.com. Amanda received her B.A. in English Literature with an emphasis in Humanities at Western Washington University. She has both an elementary and secondary teaching license and a mathematics credential. In her free time, Amanda loves being outdoors with her humorous husband and sweet and spunky three year old daughter.