Poetry is more than just an outlet for surging emotions. Teachers widely rely on poetry to help students learn how to read, write, and understand a text. Imagine empathy developing in a classroom community when a student recites a poem aloud in the class. Add to it the speaking and listening skills that students acquire, poetry educational value can’t be overemphasized.
Let’s face it; the modern-day education system prioritizes descriptive writing over creative expression. Only a small percentage of students read poetry for its own sake. The teachers are thus forced to find a purpose for poetry in their classes. If that resonates with you too, here’s how to integrate poetry in classes when teaching at an international school in Malaysia.
- Let them Set Up a Theme:
Teaching prose with a theme and related guiding questions is a common practice. Teachers often count on time-honoured techniques to create a theme for their classes. Let poetry step in here. Encouraging students to write poetry results in a great discussion and writing reflection, allowing students to create their theme and a set of accompanying questions.
- Rhyme it to Learn the Language:
Just recall how hard it was for you to memorize the structure of words and the entire text, along with phrases, clauses, and sentences. Learning grammar is cumbersome unless you introduce some motivation. It is that motivation, ensuring stickier language learning. Parts of speech, verb forms, and other aspects of grammar can be better taught through rhymes.
- Facts and Poetry Mix Well:
Poetry is a creative expression but need not be devoid of facts. Let your students create poems on a non-fiction or any other literature unit, describing the facts presented there. Informational poetry is an effective ploy to help students develop an interest in poetry, and readily grasp the otherwise dreary points. Instead, it’s a staple at an international school in Malaysia.
- Let Limerick Kick In:
Limerick is a humorous form of verse, known to invoke emotions. It can be leveraged to help you teach the language. Ask your students to write a limerick poem strictly in line with the AABBA rhyme scheme. Also, ask them to explain the phrasal verbs, the vocabulary used, and the overarching concept of the poem. It’s an engaging way to promote language learning.
- Draw on the Classic Works:
You have grown up admiring Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and the likes. Why not leverage their works to create lessons? That’s what Shanthi Cumaraswamy did on the Facebook page of Teaching English/British Council. She vetted Shakespeare’s works to figure out the “archaic” expressions that are in favour even today, frequently used by Englishmen in conversations.
- Change the Perspectives:
Poetry has a transformative power, helping change the way we look at ourselves and the world around us. At the least, it can guide us to revisiting and altering our perspectives. It’s time for you to help your students realize the transformation through inspiring verses. The “Book of Animal Poetry,” “Cat Power,” “Dogs Rule,” and “Make Magic! Do Good” can be the go-to options.