Lessons seemed to lack a sense of joy. That certain sense of discovery and excitement of seeing how the individual parts enhanced the whole. Students need to discover that they liked rhythm and rhyme in it natural habitat. We know that most of them do. They love music in almost all of it forms--rap, folk, and classic rock and roll. They memorize the lyrics to their favorite songs and write their own. It seems that as soon as we ask them to do an assignment they begin to shut down. So, what is the answer? I am not sure, but I think it will have something to do with sharing joy and discovering.
I found that reading poetry with students frequently, without the burden to parse and explore its structure and meaning every time, built a level of shared joy.
For the past two years, I posted a poem a day on Facebook. At the end of the month I archived my picks on this Blog. Immediately below are the four post--two in 2019 and two in 2020--that catalogue my engagement with poetry for those two months. It was fun and I didn't repeat any poems over the two years. Did I pick your favorite?
I hope you also revisit some of the older posts and add a book of poetry to your "To Be Read List." The authors of these post include: Lesley Roessing, Padma Venkatraman, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.
Working on this project, I started to wonder what it might look like if all of the novels I used in my course where verse novels. Could I still cover all of the themes I had in mind? Could I still make connection to the Social Studies? Would the structural format still allow me to cover all of the themes that I usually introduce? The verse novel also has so many various forms and variations that can help preservice teachers envision how poetry can be used in a multitude of ways.
I am not sure it will work, but I have been playing around with a collection of verse novels that would introduce my students to awards, themes, the history of YA, and would allow them to do an author study or a focus on a specific ethnic experience.
I know I am missing something. What might it be. Which books would you add? Which book you replace? I am still playing with the syllabi and the underlying essential questions. If you have some ideas, I would love to hear about them.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan
Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Who Killed Mr. Chippendale? by Mel Glenn
People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins
The Black Flamingo by Deab Atta
Redwood a Ponytail by K. A. Holt
Turtle Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario
Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams
Three Things I Know are True by Betty Culley
One of those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones
Compare with a Classic
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Orchards by Holly Thompson
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman
If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Beanball by Gene Fehler
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
White Rose by Kip Wilson
Audacity by Melanie Crowder
Like Water on Stone by Diana Walrath
Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
Death Coming up the Hill by Chris Crowe