Discovering Poetry in the Seventh Grade

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2014-01-15
Authors
Yuruki, Lani
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Whitesell, Phil
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Education
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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Tell any Intermediate-aged student that he will be studying poetry in English class and you will be greeted with comments like "Ugh, poetry? I hate poetry!" or "Poetry is just for girls!" Unfortunately, for a majority of students, the experience with poetry had not been a positive one. During the Fall of 1975, I student taught at Stevenson Intermediate School. At the time, I prepared a unit plan for poetry. Like many teachers, I required the students to memorize lines of poetry; to list examples of similes, metaphors, personifications and other comparisons; to choose a favorite poem for oral interpretation; and to explicate poems to find their "true meaning." My experience in teaching the unit was that the analytical approach to teaching poetry is not a pleasurable one for students, and that it does not lead them to seek out more poetry. Memorizing lines of poetry and reciting them orally was a threat to many students. Poetry explication became a chore and listening to their classmates' findings was often boring. The only area in which I felt comfortable was when the students were allowed to create their own poetry and share it with their friends.
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65 pages
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