How Teachers Can Make Challenging Poems Fun

For reasons that border on unreasonable, elementary-aged students love poetry (usually rhyming) and middle- and high school-aged students detest it (especially when they are tested on it). Perhaps this is because of stodgy assigned works from textbooks and/or old warhorses that continually get trotted out as assigned readings. Perhaps it is because students are often …

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Making Synecdoche Work For You

We've been looking at a lot of poems that use personification of late. Here's one that employs the rhetorical device known as synecdoche. As defined by Mental Floss, a website that cleans the brain, "A synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part or component of something is used to represent that whole—like …

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“As Dead Now as Shakespeare’s Children”

David Kirby, another one of those poet slash professors (in this case at Florida State University), is known for long-ish narrative poems, often leavened freely with humor. It's an engaging combination, one I've been coming to know better since I picked up two of his books. As a short intro, I found an unusually (for …

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“Catching Grain Through Spread Fingers”

You may think it strange that I annotate magazines, but sometimes, thumbing through them afterwards, I enjoy revisiting certain lines. The sentences and paragraphs I choose are not necessarily pithy like an adage or purposeful like a sage. Sometimes they just strike me and the reason is, as the French say, je ne sais quoi. …

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Football and Poetry: As Natural as Pepperoni and Pizza

If you polled one hundred high school football players, asking how well football and poetry go together, you'd probably find unanimous agreement that they don't. Emphatic agreement, even. Shut-up-and-pass-the-eye-black agreement, I dare say. But sometimes youth has much to learn. If you polled one hundred 50-year-old men who played high school football "back in the …

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To Teach Poetry, Get on the Cycle!

As a teacher of literature, I was never a big fan of "units." In teach-speak, a unit is a collection of lessons that feature skills, strategies, and formative assessments leading to a final goal (the summative assessment), which can take many forms (traditionally, however, a paper or a test). The problem with units is, quite …

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