First, over a month ago Sarah Donovan invited people to write a poem a day during the month of April. I though about it, but just knew I couldn't (wouldn't) do it. Writing poetry can be daunting. It has always made me uneasy. I get it when students are reluctant to write poetry.
I thought about the invitation. I kept asking myself what can I do to think about poetry more frequently during April. I really can't add much more to the blog posts that both Lesley Roessing and Padma Venkatraman have written for this space. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post that referenced their work. (please see that post http://www.yawednesday.com/blog/a-poem-a-day-during-april-of-course) There are links to their posts and to several adolescent verse novels that I love.
I decide that I could commit to posting a poem a day on my personal Facebook Page and then I shared it to my Dr. Bickmore's YA Wednesday Facebook Page. I generally avoided making any comment. Just the poem.
I have really enjoyed reading and selecting all of these poems. Many have been favorites for a long time. Some are poems I revisit frequently: Hopkins' As King Fishers Catch Fire, Hughes' The Negro Speaks of Rivers, Yeats' Among School Children, Lowell's For the Union Dead, and Roethke's I Knew a Women.
I didn't figure out everything to help my students when I was an AP literature teacher. I did find one discovery that helped with poetry. I hated the three or four week poetry unit. I dropped it.
Instead, I started doing poetry every Monday. Usually, I would focus on a single poet and three to five poems. The primary reading for the week was for the student to read each poem at least three times. Of course, they were always in the middle of a longer work. It didn't matter, Monday was for poetry. We started by selecting one of the poems and then we waited for a volunteer to read it aloud. Then, without comment some else read it. After the second reading we could be discussing--structure, symbols, figurative language, etc.
I loved the reading. Many might think that students would resist this public reading. Remarkably, they took to it quite well. Most started reading them out loud to themselves over the weekend. They learned something about listening.
They heard the beauty in The Solitary Reaper or in The Windhover. The students became better listeners. Because we looked at poetry all of the time, the idea of writing about a poem for the AP exam became less daunting.
I woke up and started doing the same thing with student who weren't in my AP class. Guess what? It worked. I should have done it sooner.
So my efforts aren't lost, I made a list with the links to the poems. I want to do it again next year. For your enjoyment here is the list.
You may not know it yet, but you really do want to hear the keynotes speeches by Phil Bildner, Padma Venkatraman, and Meg Medina.
The breakout presenters are all handpicked for their expertise and their ability to guide teacher towards better, more meaningful engagement with students. Go to the 2019 Summit page, Read the bios and look at the current draft of the program for an abstract of each presentation. It will be an enriching experience.