Young Adult Lit/Crit

March 26, 2008

Seminar Feedback: Erin

Filed under: seminar feedback — Joyce @ 8:04 pm

I was also in Erin’s seminar and I enjoyed it very much.

The book that really stood out to me was THE WORLD ACCORDING TO DOG. I think Allison mentioned that, too, with a link, so I won’t give one here. As a dog owner, I found this book to be humorous, and a nice departure from “heavy” poetry. Erin’s use of this book was clearly the result of her desire to make poetry enjoyable. Kudos on that.

Erin’s lesson plans were varied and worth while. Kate mentioned the Cultural Study plan, and Allison talked about the Poetry Slam! plan, so I will include the Bio and Summary Poetry plan.

The Bio/Summary lesson begins with a book club or lit circle (so this could be happening at any time during the year-not just during a poetry unit.) I liked the applicability of using poetry outside of an established “unit” of learning, as just another natural aspect of class. After reading the books, students then create “bio poems” about a character in the novel, and a “summary poem” for the book. It’s fun, and it engages some good comprehension work in a new way.  I would definitely use this idea, and perhaps couple it with a critical project.

Erin included very useful critical articles, and I would like to discuss “Out Loud: The Common Language of Poetry” by Ellis, Gere, and Lamberton in connection with the previous lesson plan. In this article, the “oral nature” of poetry is addressed as something that needs to be “more visible and audible to students” (44). 

Poetry is something that HAS to be read out loud, so we should let this “orality […] shape the ways we teach” (44). 

Later in the article, a possible sequence of activities is put in list form, including an introduction to performance poetry, allowing students to select a poem, giving them time to memorize it, and then putting on a performance. In the Bio/Summary plan, the oral use of poetry could be used as a follow up to the creation of the character bios. Each student in a lit circle could write a bio for a different character, and then they could perform their poetry for the class as a sort of “book talk.”

I was glad to participate in discussions after Erin read some poetry selections. She picked several wonderful poems that were completely accessible, that I thought would really engage a resistant poetry learner. One of her biggest points was that the first poetry samples in class must be understandable, and then after that barrier is broken- more complex poetry is much easier to teach and learn. This was very thoughtful, and showed an earnest desire for poetry to be appreciated above all else. What is the point, after all, of forcing students to struggle with poetry they don’t understand before they’ve begun to appreciate how amazing poetry can be.   

Overall, I thought Erin did a fine job with her seminar, and I have several books to buy for my someday classroom library, and ideas to proceed through poetry with a class.



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