I have never been the best at making, or keeping, New Year’s resolutions. However, this morning when I was looking at the books on my bookshelves, I noticed how many of them were books of poetry. These books actually made up a fair amount of my collection, which surprised me. I have always considered poetry to be a “reading weakness” of mine and its presence has certainly been lacking in my teaching. Hence, my resolution to include more poetry in my classroom. Many of my students are intimidated by long texts and I imagine that they will be motivated by poems that use just a few words to express such deep meaning (obviously I will not be starting with epic poetry).
Two of the poetry books on my shelves were recently borrowed from a local library and both of them fit in well with the theme of this blog. The first is For Everyone by Jason Reynolds. This book is one poem written in four parts that was composed for anyone who has ever had a dream. Really, that describes us all, which I imagine is why the title of the book is For Everyone. Mr. Reynolds is one of my favorite authors and has been ever since I first saw his Author Biography which describes him like this, “Jason Reynolds is crazy. About stories.”
The second library book on my shelf was One Last Word by Nikki Grimes which includes poems from poets of the Harlem Renaissance alongside those of Grimes. Each of her poems is written in a Golden Shovel form. I had never heard of this form (as I said, I am a bit of a poetry novice) and I was interested to learn that it involves taking an entire poem or a line from a poem and composing a new poem with each line ending with one of the original words. The end products created by Ms. Grimes are absolutely stunning.
I think that including more poetry in my classroom might be one of the resolutions that I am able to keep. It is, at the very least, one worth keeping.
Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards:
Identity 4: I feel good about my many identities and know they don’t make me better than people with other identities.
Diversity 10: I can explain how the way groups of people are treated today, and the way they have been treated in the past, shapes their group identity and culture.
RL.4- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama.
RL.5- Analyze how a drama’s or poem’s form or structure (e.g., soliloquy, sonnet) contributes to its meaning.