April is National Poetry Month and Proximity Learning is thrilled to share its love of poetry with both educators and students. There are so many innovative ways teachers can share the joys, benefits, and connections poetry allows in the online classroom or in the brick-and-mortar classroom with their students.
In April 1996, the Academy of American Poets initiated the first-ever National Poetry Month. Many people, especially students, get intimidated when they think of poetry - but there’s nothing to fear when it comes to this genre of literature and its use of abstract concepts or wordplay.
In fact, many studies show that students who learn, read, and write poetry will actually strengthen their writing and learning aptitudes across the curriculum.
Poetry is a Teacher
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s book, Poems are Teachers uses multiple models to illustrate craft techniques for poets. The models help students identify main ideas, choose perspectives and points of view, structure text, play with language, and therefore strengthen all reading and writing skills from fiction to opinion or personal narrative to information. This not only helps students develop their own writing skills but also refines the analysis and synthesis of the various texts they encounter in the academic setting.
Because of poetry’s innate ability to appeal to the senses and subvert the ordinary, it gives students the opportunity to explore metaphors, new vocabulary, and learn to incorporate themes and concrete ideas. In short, it provides a small sample space where students can test their skills and knowledge with low stakes.
However, students need guidance and support to foster these learning skills and make these connections.
Engaging Students Develop Skills Across the Curriculum
Students who are taught to appreciate and engage with poetry develop skills that can help them in other subjects like social studies, science, and even math.
Because poetry asks students to think differently about the words on the page, it helps them develop deep analytical and critical thinking skills which foster other areas of language learning, vocabulary, communication skills, creativity in problem-solving, and improved memory and retention. Here’s how:
Enhanced critical thinking and analysis: Poetry requires patience, careful analysis, and interpretation. Students learn to consider multiple perspectives, identify literary devices, and make connections between different elements of the text.
Improved language, vocabulary, and communication: Poetry encourages students to explore the depths of language by helping them develop vocabulary, grammar, and syntax skills.
Developed creativity and self-expression: Poetry is an art form that allows for a high degree of creativity and self-expression. Students can use poetry to express their thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a unique and meaningful way.
Improved memory and retention: Memorization is often a key component of studying poetry, which can improve retention skills. Students learn to retain information through repetition and recitation, which can also enhance their overall learning abilities.
Poetry Fosters Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom
Poetry can be a powerful tool for teaching social-emotional learning (SEL) skills. SEL skills help students develop more than just cognitive and core-curriculum skills, they learn things like empathy, self-awareness, self-regulation, social and cultural awareness, and interpersonal skills for better communication. For example:
Empathy: Poetry helps students develop empathy by encouraging them to imagine other points of view and differing life experiences. Often, poems explore emotions and can provide students access to not only their own emotional needs but also those of others.
Self-awareness: Poetry can help students develop self-awareness by providing a safe and creative outlet for students to express their feelings and explore their own identities.
Self-regulation: Poetry can help students develop the two main types of self-regulation: behavioral and emotional. This aspect of emotional intelligence can help students manage how they relate to their own feelings, thoughts, and actions. Writing and reading poetry can also help students regulate their emotions and develop coping strategies.
Social and cultural awareness: Poetry can help students develop both social and cultural awareness by exposing them to different cultures, experiences, and perspectives.
Interpersonal skills: Poetry can help students develop relationship skills by exploring themes related to love, friendship, and human connection. Poems can help students learn how to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and develop healthy relationships.
Overall, poems can be some of life’s best teachers, opening up a world of experiences for students who would have otherwise gone without. Want to find a way to bring poetry lessons into your classroom?
Here are some great links to lesson plans and creative ways to get your students inspired and excited:
National Poetry Month Resources