Common Core: Poetry

Posted by Raye Wood on Mon, Apr 08 2013

April is one of my favorite months. Not only does it bring the promise of Spring but it is also National Poetry Month. As a child, I didn't "get" poetry and thought it would forever elude me. As a teacher, I was afraid I would never be able to help my students to "get" poetry either.

This is nonsense of course. No one really needs to "get" poetry anymore. At least not when you think about how much of the Common Core specificially ties into poetry. No longer do we need to ruminate over the poet's hidden meaning but rather we can focus on the beauty of the language and the detailed text to help us make meaning.

Meeting the Standards with Poetry

I found a great article about this as I was researching for this post. Ben Curran wrote for Education Teacher Week in January and stated that every grade level includes standards specific to poetry. Additionally, think of everything you can possibly teach through poetry! Some examples include inferring, figurative language, structure, theme, and compare and contrast.

These are all standards that must be taught anyway but now you have an excuse to pull out those fabulous poems you love because you can pretty much guarantee that you are going to be able to find a standard to fit the poem you want to work with.

How to teach Poetry

That's the million dollar question, isn't it? How do you teach this? I love Curran's advice in his article. He says that you can think of general questions to ask  such as "what word surprises you?" or "how are images described?" or you can think of questions specific to the actual poem you are working with. Use these questions to simply guide a discussion with the students about the poem you are reading together.

My favorite question that he asks?

"What do you notice?"

This question puts students in the driver's seat to understanding, engaging with and using poetry. They get to begin the conversation and it can then be built upon simply by following the students' lead.

Adding in the Common Core

Of course one of the biggest pieces to the Common Core is students' ability to cite specific evidence they find in a text. This is very easy to do with poetry because as students notice and discuss, they can refer back to the parts of the poem that helped them come up with their answer. If students disagree with each other, they can also use the text to help them justify their disagreements.

Poetry should be celebrated in all classrooms since it provides so much opportunity to analyze text, increase understanding and support critical thinking. The Common Core makes it even easier to squeeze in that favorite poetry unit you have because it will, in fact, meet your standards.

Raye Wood

Raye Wood is an upper elementary ESL teacher in Michigan. She regularly blogs at The Caffeinated Teacher. You can follow her on Twitter as @RayeWood.
Posted in Common Core

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