We all are busier than ever and feeling the stress of our hectic schedules; and because of this, poetry has become increasingly popular in the classroom. It’s easy to incorporate poetry into your day, whenever it’s convenient for you, even if you have only a minute to spare.
Let’s explore some of the different ways that we can share a poem:
And how about a combination of some of the above? Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb,” found in the book The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country, is a model text for exploring this topic.
Most of us were introduced to this poem via live television or video. We heard the poem before we saw the text, and we became entranced as much by the poet herself as by her words. If we saw Amanda Gorman perform this poem, it was impossible then to listen to the audio file or read the words without picturing her expressive hand gestures. But hearing the poem again or reading it later with our eyes, if we did that, gave us greater awareness of the internal rhyme, assonance, consonance, and alliteration in the poem, along with its meaning, too.
Try this with your students:
(1) Play an audio clip from “The Hill We Climb.” You can buy the audiobook from Audible or other sources; or you can simply play a short excerpt from a video found online. See this Google doc for multiple sources and resources.
(2) Show a video clip of the same passage.
(3) Show the plain written text of your chosen excerpt on a screen. You can find the text online or show an excerpt from the book.
(4) Show that excerpt as a “digital postcard” created quickly by you, using images found online at news outlets or at a site with royalty-free images, such as Pixabay.com.
(5) Talk for a few minutes about what your students notice or remember.
(6) And then make a “waterfall chat poem” together using the chat function of Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or another online meeting tool.
The prompt for this chat poem could be something like this:
Using the “We _________ , we __________ “ structure of Amanda Gorman’s phrase “Even as we grieved, we grew,” type a short phrase of your own into the chat; then wait; then let’s all press enter/return at the same time to create a “waterfall” of words.
On January 31, 2022, the two of us hosted an NCTE Winter Book Discussion focused on Amanda Gorman’s books The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem and also Change Sings. The “waterfall chat poem” exercise that we describe above created a joyful poetry moment. It was thrilling to see our list poem appear instantly in the chat feed. It allowed everyone to join in, but it was no problem if they didn’t participate. Janet read the poem aloud very quickly, and then we moved on.
Here’s an excerpt of that poem, with the names of the participants hidden: