Dan Duke Dan started playing guitar as a teenager in the previous century, digging into rock and the blues. A visit to a Muse Jam in rejuvenated his interest in performing. He wants to keep the Muse Jam alive and continue the spirit of openness to music, poetry and whatever else people are interested in sharing.
We would read two different Medusa poems, I decided, and then students would have a chance to write their own poems addressed to Medusa. This time, I got an email back. The teacher was concerned that the Schmeidler poem would be too difficult for the students.
I was taken aback—if anything, I had thought of the Plath poem as the more difficult one, though really, thinking of poems on a scale of news writing about teachers day poems felt wrong too. It was awash in contemporary life.
Was I failing in my goal to help these students access poetry by bringing them poems that were inaccessible?
I look, first and foremost, for poetry that will surprise students—that will surprise their preconceptions of what poetry is, what writing is, what language is. I want them to be surprised because I think of surprise as a sort of expansion or explosion of your idea of a thing.
Because I think that to create a wider view of poetry or writing means that it is more possible to write. Sometimes, that leads me to teach poems whose language is plain and every day, in a voice students recognize as closer to their own voices than to their idea of poetry. And sometimes that leads to poems with difficult language, or complex constructions, things that seem difficult to understand.
I remember in elementary school, our classrooms had books arranged in bins by reading level, and you had to read a certain number of books at your current level before moving on to the next bin. In the library, books were arranged instead by topic, genre, author.
When that teacher asked me if a poem I had selected might be too difficult for her 6th-grade students, I bristled at the suggestion. But it was, of course, too difficult, if the objective had been for students to comprehend it in the way that leads to a passing score on a multiple-choice test.
I, too, would likely have failed a comprehension test on that particular poem. I was bringing it to students not because I understood it, but because it interested me. It surprised me, and I thought it might also surprise them.
The teacher suggested modifications—adding definitions of all the difficult words to the printouts of the poem, or explaining the words to the students before reading the poem aloud.
These were reasonable suggestions, but again, I got defensive. Which of course is not really what I meant—on a second or third or fourth read of a poem, I often look up words or references, I follow the linguistic and cultural curiosities that the poem has sparked in me.
Later, when I got over my bristling, defensive reaction, I realized something. But when I imagined these poems read with that strategy, I saw a page crowded with circles, a visual manifestation of confusion, a way of reading that would create and magnify a feeling of alienation.
So the next time I taught a difficult poem, I asked students to circle the lines that they liked—those would be the things we paid attention to, that we talked about.
Sometimes, the lines they liked were the ones that they understood. We talked about those lines, and what they liked about them, what the words made them think of.
It gave us an entry into those difficult poems, gave each student their own purchase on it. They became more confident, and less afraid of being wrong. Medusa, you are beautiful in your own unique way.Join us for Open House Thursday, September 6th at pm.
The evening will begin in the Reece Theater. To help students produce writing with a higher occurrence of lexical variation, complex sentences and appropriate use of passive structures.
Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, internationally known expert in the field of prevention and developer of the highly acclaimed LifeSkills Training (LST) substance abuse and violence prevention program, was an invited speaker at the Blueprints for Healthy Youth Conference on May 1st in Denver, Colorado.
Dr. Botvin’s presentation, “LifeSkills Training. (formerly regardbouddhiste.com) Mrs. Jones shares links to free printable materials on the internet for young children, their teachers and parents. National Poetry Day planning picks. Nicola Davison. 25th September Share this. Primary.
'The Quarrel' by Maxine Kumin. Ideal for National Poetry Day! A fun poetry analysis and writing activity lesson (or two lessons) based on The Quarrel by Maxine Kumin.
Poetry Train is a teachers pack of activities, poems and advice for teaching. This online tool enables students to learn about and write acrostic poems. Elements of the writing process are also included.