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EDU2TE: Making meaning and expressing self through poetry.

EDU2TE: Making meaning and expressing self through poetry.

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  • 1. Amy Cook
  • 2. KEY TERMS Poetry – literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm. Children’s poetry is rhythm, rhyme, sound and image; it is something that is spoken aloud and listened to. Poetry has the following functions: Acoustic – relating to sound or the sense of hearing. Articulatory – the action of putting words into an idea or feeling of a specified type. The formation of clear and distinct sounds in speech. Rhyme - Correspondence of sound between words or the endings of words, esp. when these are used at the ends of lines of poetry. Rhythm - A strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound. Semantic – relating to meaning in language or logic. Verse - Writing arranged with a metrical rhythm, typically having a rhyme.
  • 3. EXPLANATION OF ISSUE Poetry, due to its structure is a great way to encourage the use of expressive language and therefore is a tool to use to allow students to express themselves, what they see or how they feel. It is also a wonderful tool to look at when exploring meaning in text, as the meaning of poetry in a lot of cases is up to the reader so it is a case of “no wrong answer” which is very encouraging for individuals to share and contribute ideas. Children respond to poetry from a very young age. The best example of this is nursery rhymes. Which is why even from a Foundation age level, poetry is included in the AUSVels standards. Children will begin to “identify some characteristic features of literary texts, for example beginnings and endings of traditional texts and rhyme in poetry.” Children from this age should also be able to “replicate the rhythms and sound patterns in stories, rhymes, songs and poems from a range of cultures.” Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. (2013). English curriculum. Retrieved from
  • 4. THEMES There are three themes that have emerged from my research on this topic- poetry as three separate yet distinctly connected functions: •  Acoustic: Poems sound best when read aloud, the words flow due to the rhythm within the structure. This therefore is a great tool to encourage fluency in young readers. •  Articulatory: Poetry for children is generally short and simple. The structure and presentation (short sentences, few words) of the poem can give even reluctant readers confidence to read aloud. In the writing of poetry, children are given a means to express themselves and articulate what they are seeing or feeling. •  Semantic: The semantic function of poetry is related to the meaning in poetry. Children can interpret poetry and share and expand upon ideas and thoughts they have relating to the text.
  • 5. DISCUSSION & ANALYSIS OF IDEAS IN TEXTBOOK Poetry has linguistic freedom. This means that sentences can be incomplete and/or ungrammatical. This gives children an opportunity to write in a style that would otherwise not be acceptable. Words can be left out, as it is the sound, and the sense that comes from the writing that matters. However this is something that needs to be carefully addressed as students need to be aware that poetry has its own rules. A lost art. From young ages, children innately respond to poetry in the form of nursery rhymes, and this is shared and enjoyed with them by adults. However poetry becomes something that many can’t relate to and even dislike by secondary school. Similarities between Poetry and Picture Books. Poems, like picture book text, tends to be very spare, as poets only have a short space to convey thoughts and meaning so every word must count. Simple words release ideas, feelings, thoughts, and meanings. Winch et al (2010). Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature, 4th Edition.
  • 6. …DISCUSSION & ANALYSIS OF IDEAS IN TEXTBOOK Poetry sounds best when read aloud. This relates to the acoustic function of poetry. It also provides teachers with a tool that will encourage even hesitant readers to read aloud, as what looks like a short and simple text will extract a confidence from them. Most children enjoy the sound of poetry, this is why rhymes are chanted in playgrounds and songs are sung. The sounds and rhythm of words are a part of a poems meaning and a fundamental part of the poetic experience. Poetry is an excellent resource for speaking and listening for all these reasons but there needs to be an emphasis on the enjoyment of it. The idea of meaning in poetry. Perhaps the most important idea presented in the textbook, as it directly relates to the topic. Meaning in poems may be a problem that needs to be suitably addressed in schools because different poems can have different meanings for different people. Educators must find ways to express that poetry connects and gives expression to all sorts of emotions and ideas and there is not often a ‘wrong answer’ when interpreting the meaning in the work. Winch et al (2010). Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature, 4th Edition.
  • 7. FURTHER DISCUSSION & ANALYSIS OF IDEAS - ACADEMIC TEXT The chapter in this book titled “From Rhyme to Poetry,” explores poetry for younger children and how these appeal and the features that allow them to do so. However what relates most to this topic is when Lukens summarizes that poetry encourages readers to participate and interpret poetry using rhythm, sound and connotation (p. 258). The chapter discusses poetry as an emotional experience. I think this is important to note, as is the point that a childs sense of curiosity about their environment is called upon. Luken (2002) states “the trip to the grocery store is no longer ordinary: ‘to the market, to the market to buy a fat pig,’ and a walk beside flower beds is time for: ‘mistress Mary’s garden’ with ‘silver bells and cockleshells and pretty maids all in a row.” (p. 232.) A child can relate this to going to the supermarket with their mum or dad, or walking in their own garden. Looking at poetry in this way gives children a way of looking at every day experiences that is somewhat more descriptive and exciting. Lukens, R. (2002). A critical handbook of children’s literature. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. ch. 11, pp. 231-259
  • 8. FURTHER DISCUSSION & ANALYSIS OF IDEAS - WEBSITEAlthough an Irish website, this page provides an in-depth look at approaching poetry in schools that is definitely relevant in Australian schools. An effective way children can respond to poetry requires a guided session with the teacher playing a vital role in initiating and encouraging discussion. Children can be prompted to: - examine the effects of features in poetry such as repetition, alliteration, imagery, rhythm and rhyme, metaphor, etc. - distinguish deeper meaning in the poem I think that when looking at poetry, the best way to explore meaning would be to have ability based groups take part In guided reading sessions with the teacher prompting students to make connections between the selected poem and their own feelings and experiences. When expressing themselves through the creation of their own poetry, children should be encouraged to perceive accuracy and sincerity of expression as the most important requirements in a poem, rather than a focus on rhyme. I agree thoroughly with this purely because if a student is too pre-occupied with making their poem rhyme, their work may be lacking in more important features such as actually making meaning. Curriculum Online. (1999). Approaches to poetry. Retrieved from language/english/english_teacher_guidelines/ approaches_and_methodologies/approaches_to_poetry/
  • 9. FURTHER DISCUSSION & ANALYSIS OF IDEAS - ARTICLE When it comes to expressing self through poetry, Finch (2003) explains that the use of poetry in a writing class can be a way for students to express ideas that are meaningful to them, without the restrictions of grammatical accuracy. (p.29) Therefore, poetry is an effective way for students to express their personal feelings and thoughts. The article has been written with the idea of teaching the English language in a non-English speaking country, however has many points and examples that could be used or adapted for use in younger year classrooms in Australia. It is relevant as well as it is a relatively modern article and includes examples and explanations of -  Pop songs -  Pattern poems -  Picture poems (examples on next slide) -  Haiku (example of how the author It describes the functions of the above, provides examples and explains the benefits involved in their use in a classroom. Finch, A. (2003). Using poems to teach English. English Language Teaching. 15(2), 29 – 45. Retrieved from
  • 10. Finch, A. (2003). Using poems to teach English. English Language Teaching. 15(2), 29 – 45. Retrieved from
  • 11. Finch, A. (2003). Using poems to teach English. English Language Teaching. 15(2), 29 – 45. Retrieved from
  • 12. THEORY TO PRACTICE – POETRY AS A READING TOOL As my research has suggested and supported, poetry is a form of literature that sounds best when read aloud. This makes poetry a great resource for read aloud activities- let the children read from a big book or display they can all see chorally (reading in unison as a group). This not only involves students in active learning, but can encourage fluency due to the natural rhythm of the words. Obviously, the teacher needs to carefully choose the poem to be used and make sure it is appropriate for the group. The reading of poetry can lead to a further lesson on adjectives and adverbs as a lot of poetry includes a lot of this. In my last practicum rounds, I led a grade ¾ class in looking at adjectives. I used a segment from a children’s book however I would have liked to have found a poem that had a number of adjectives in it, because I do believe that poetry awakens a students aesthetic response, and they are more likely to take notice (whether consciously or subconsciously) of what the words are saying and describing when they have the flow of poetry. A lot of students hesitate when called upon to read aloud, however poetry may encourage these students to volunteer or even just have a go as the structure of a poem contains short sentences. I looked at this in greater detail under the subheading ‘Poetry sounds best when read aloud’ on slide 6.
  • 13. THEORY TO PRACTICE – POETRY AS A WRITING TOOL After introducing students to features of poetry, children can brainstorm as a class or small groups examples of adjectives, rhyming words, metaphors, similes etc. These discussions can be transferred onto posters to keep and display around the classroom. This is a great tool to have that students can refer to during attempting to create their own poetry. As summarized on the Curriculum Online (1999) website, it needs to be stressed that poetry is very unique in that everybody feels and has different opinions and therefore not only making meaning of poetry is up to the individual but so is expressing self through the writing of poetry, and this therefore gives students a freedom to create without the fear of being judged or criticized. Also, as spoken about on slide 5, Poetry has linguistic freedom. Students are given the opportunity to write without conventional grammar rules. They can be introduced to ‘nonsense’ as a style of writing. A great example to use here would be Alice in Wonderland, as it contains a lot of nonsensical terms, poems and riddles.
  • 14. THEORY TO PRACTICE – MAJOR ISSUES There are certainly a few problems facing teachers when looking at making meaning and expressing self through poetry. The unconventionality of poetry may cause confusion – the fact that poetry does not necessarily have the sentence structure children are used too, poetry may incorporate the use of nonsense words, they do not need to be grammatically correct etc. If beginning a lesson sequence, or even in a lesson introducing students to poetry for the first time I think it is necessary to spend a little bit of time explaining these concepts and answering any questions the students may have. Winch et al (2010) points out that students often can’t relate and may even actively dislike by secondary school. (p. 611) I think this has to do with a type of stereotype many people have on poetry – the idea that it is boring and tedious. I think teachers need to be careful when using poetry as a resource to make sure it is relevant to the students, and approached with enthusiasm on the teachers behalf.
  • 15. REFERENCES Curriculum Online. (1999). Approaches to poetry. Retrieved from language/english/ english_teacher_guidelines/ approaches_and_methodologies/approaches_to_poetry/ Finch, A. (2003). Using poems to teach English. English Language Teaching. 15(2), 29 – 45. Retrieved from Lukens, R. (2002). A critical handbook of children’s literature. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. ch. 11, pp. 231-259 Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. (2013). English curriculum. Retrieved from Winch et al (2010). Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature, 4th Edition.