Poetry Across the Content Areas
NCTE INBOX 4-9-13
April of each year is National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate poets and their craft. NCTE fosters excellence in children's poetry by encouraging its publication and by promoting ways to acquaint teachers and children with poetry. For instance, NCTE established its Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 1977 to honor a living American poet for his or her aggregate work for children ages 3–13. Another Jar of Tiny Stars is a collection of poems by winners of this award.
Poetry reading, writing, and enjoyment shouldn't be limited to the English language arts classroom. These resources from NCTE and ReadWriteThink.org show poetry across the content areas.
Poetry of Place: Helping Students Write Their Worlds is chockful of student poetry samples and unique ideas, including field trips and a poetry night hike, to spark students' imaginations and inspire them to write poetry.
Students learning English develop their poetry writing through dialogue about the topic of journeys and their interactions with visual art as described in "Finding the Right Words: Art Conversations and Poetry." Similarly, in this lesson, students explore ekphrasis -- writing inspired by art. Students find pieces of art that inspire them and compose a booklet of poems about the pieces they have chosen.
"Poetry in Science" describes how a seventh-grade teacher incorporated poetry writing into her science class, helping students to learn the science material and helping the teacher to evaluate the students' knowledge. This Community Story shares how the ReadWriteThink.org's poetry tools and lessons helped a teacher see all the different ways students could write poetry, including in the science classroom.
Two math teachers, two English teachers, and 86 students bridge cultural divides between mathematics and English in urban Massachusetts and rural Iowa as described in "Math in the Margins: Writing Across Curricula into Community Heritage."
Through a 360-degree approach to teaching critical literacy as described in 360 Degrees of Text: Using Poetry to Teach Close Reading and Powerful Writing (S), students investigate texts through a full spectrum of learning modalities, harnessing the excitement of performance, imitation, creative writing, and argument/debate activities to become more powerful thinkers, readers, and writers. Listen to a podcast interview with the author and view the sample chapter online to read more about poetry as a means into academic writing. Learn more with these ReadWriteThink.org poetry lesson plans from the author.
The ReadWriteThink.org podcast series Text Messages celebrates National Poetry Month by recommending a variety of poetry books for teens. Featured titles include themed collections of poetry compiled for teens as well as collections of poetry written by teens. Also mentioned is a poetic form that exists only in YA lit -- the novel written in verse.
To better understand the subtle relationship between history and English, first-year students in an introductory literature class compare Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem about the 1876 deaths of General George Armstrong Custer and his men with historical accounts of the Battle of the Little Bighorn in order to discover how historical and poetic truths are related. Try a similar idea with this lesson plan, which pairs a magazine article about the Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck in 1975 with the Gordon Lightfoot song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."
For more poetry resources, visit the NCTE Online Store and the ReadWriteThink.org calendar entry on National Poetry Month.
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