Why Teach Children Poetry?

Are you a true lover of poetry? Are you an avid and exceptional teacher of poetry in the classroom? If so… then this article is not for you.

This article is for the rest of us teachers who know that poetry has value… but with limited time and so much to cover… poetry needs to prove its case.

Poetry for Teachers Who Prefer Math and Science

Some have felt they were missing the point… or the value of teaching children to write poetry. It just wasn’t their style… and they thought they sounded kind of funny when they tried to explain the profoundness of poetry in being able to uniquely express the human condition.

These teachers understood that poetry could be fun, interesting, artistic, and beautiful. Great! But they wanted more than fun, interesting, artistic, and beautiful. There had to be some kind of “academic” reason for teaching poetry that students would understand and apply… beyond poetry.

Like many teachers, I myself suspected that poetry had the power to communicate to children what ordinary essay and report writing could not. I suspected poetry could be harnessed for academic gains and not just artistic revelry.

The goal for me with poetry was not to simply transform children into “poets” but also to transform them into “skilled and observant communicators.” I believed and dreamed… that poetry had the potential to help transform students writing… across the curriculum!

Here is what I discovered along the way…

Six Traits, Poetry, Patterns, and Communication

I’ve long felt that being a skilled communicator is among the most valuable assets that a person can possess. Even if a person ends up in a science or math oriented profession, being able to effectively communicate one’s ideas will likely have a larger impact on a career than the ideas themselves. A truly skilled communicator has complete mastery over the words they use and the meaning those words convey.

The “Six Traits of Writing” along with “Pattern Based Writing: Quick and Easy Essay” has transformed my teaching of poetry in the classroom. When teaching poetry I now achieve many goals that transfer over to all of the writing that my students do… across the curriculum.

Out of the six traits found in the “Six Traits of Writing” model it seems that there are three traits that are inherently intertwined with the teaching of poetry writing to children. They stand out for me because I find that I am able to communicate their concepts very effectively when teaching poetry… and the concepts learned transfer over into all the writing my students do. This makes teaching poetry fun… and a good use of time!

Three Traits of Poetry Writing Which Improve Student Writing… Across the Curriculum

1. Organization and structure – The most popular forms of poetry that children are taught all seem to have a very definite pattern and structure. They are powerful and compact patterns that create powerful rhythm and meaning. By putting focus on the structure and the pattern in these rather simple poems you can help children to see the organization and structure in much of what they will both read and write… across the curriculum. (If you have used “Pattern Based Writing: Quick and Easy Essay” with your students, you will find that these poems and the patterns found within them are almost a natural extension of the Pattern Based Writing program. Be sure to go to the “PatternBasedWriting.com” home page and see what I mean…)

2. Word choice and usage – The major poetry patterns have descriptive use of language built right into the pattern. Each word in student created poetry is carefully chosen and each word has a specific intent within the poem. Students often consider many choices for that one valuable word in that one specific position. When you have only 17 syllables for an entire poem… you have to be very picky and consider many different word choices… until you find the one that is just right! I’ve found it’s pretty easy to transfer this skill over to students’ essay and report writing.

3. Voice – Often a complete and unique voice is both started and completed in as little as 17 syllables! The most popular poems children are taught to write are powerfully condensed units of expression. It is easy to compare these short poems and clearly hear a unique voice in each one of them. When you compare a Limerick to a Haiku the shift in voice is… an easy teaching moment.

Getting the Most Out of Poetry

Poetry has a lot to offer in helping students to become artistic poets as well as successful students. Using a combination of “Pattern Based Writing: Quick and Easy Essay” and the “Six Traits of Writing” model will transform your teaching of poetry writing into both an artistic and academic endeavor!

Be sure to read “Popular Forms of Poetry to Teach Children” and discover over 15 different types and aspects of poetry that children just love!

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