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Why Teach Poetry in the Age of Common Core?

By Lynne Dorfman

During a recent staff development day that I was conducting, one of the participants asked, “So what you are saying is that we need to force our students to read and write poetry?”  Implicit in her question was that she felt many of her students would be resistant and would not choose read or write poetry unless forced.   I answered by saying that we need to expect our students to read and write in many genres.   We need them to take risks and try to convince our students that the ability to independently read and write poetry and myriad genres is a way to explore the options that are available to them.  Rather than to force your students to read and write poems, invite them to grow their capacities as learners and investigate new worlds through the promise of poetry.

You may think your students are probably leaning toward declining your invitation. And you may be right! Today, we face a significant instructional undertaking: selling the value of reading, writing, and thinking – in this instance – through the lens of a poet. Indeed, we all gravitate towards individual preferences ; but the range of our thinking might shift and expand if we interact with and try to understand the world around us through inspirational models of examining the world. Common Core asks us to take a closer look and think deeply about what the author is saying. Poetry will help us to do this.

  • How are your students developing the capacity to communicate by reading and writing poetry?
  • What scaffolding is necessary to support students as they read and write poems?

Some of my favorite poetry books and authors:

  • unBEElievables by Douglas Florian
  • African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways by Avis Harley
  • Ubiquitous by Joyce Sidman
  • Stitchin” and Pullin”: A Gee’s Bend Quilt by Patricia McKissack

 


imageLynne Dorfman is a co-director for PAWLP. Her new book, co-authored with Diane Dougherty, is Grammar Matters: Lessons, Tips, & Conversations Using Mentor Texts, K-6 (September 2014)

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