School Presentations and Workshops: Poetry

While instructors agree that classes would profit from reading more poetry, not many are comfortable teaching the subject. Most students struggle to grasp the meaning in poetry and never come to appreciate the power and grace in a poet's word choices.

Sue Van Wassenhove offers schools a one- or two-part poetry presentation to help teachers get students comfortable with the language of poetry. The first presentation explores poetry excerpts and how each represents sound and rhythm tools commonly used by poets. Next is a workshop in which small groups of students, with careful guidance, collaborate to create their own poems.

Part 1: Exploring Poetry's Language

Sue uses enjoyable poetry to help students explore how poets use the beauty of language to create verse. Students will learn how to approach reading a poem and will begin to understand what makes a poem good and how poetry can carry an idea with music in language.

Poetry's general forms
Rhymes and other sound relationships
 (alliteration, assonance, internal rhyme,
Free verse
Oral presentation techniques
Part 2: Poetry Writing Workshop

This hands-on workshop will guide small groups of students in brainstorming their way to creating a poem. A multi-intelligence, job-division approach will give each team member a task in his or her composition group.

After a review of the ideas from Part 1, Sue will model a poem's development based on work done by other classes. Groups will set goals for their new poems. Then students will plunge in to find a topic, select rhymes and choose rhythms.

When group readers present their poems, Sue will guide students in searching out and celebrating small poetic language successes. Younger groups might dance to one another's rhythms. Finally, an essential discussion of editing will conclude the workshop.

Session Goals:
Confidence in attempting to express ideas in poetry
An appreciation of how poets manipulate language for sound
Recognition of poetry writing as a process
An understanding of the power in word choice
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