Yes, you do!
Until I worked with my poetry–loving teaching partner a few years ago, I loathed teaching poetry. All those memories from year 12 English literature class had left me thinking it was all too hard, and secretly I just didn’t get why it was important. I was always at a loss as to what poems were good models to use when teaching the devices and styles of poetry.
I have a new enthusiasm for teaching poetry. One of the big benefits for the middle and upper primary classroom is that you can analyse and discuss the many devices used by authors without committing to a novel sized text. Often students with low literacy levels are not frightened by the length of a poem. Poems are also great for getting students to experiment with small chunks of language as they try out devices and poetry styles for themselves. Often by the time students get to the upper years, they have forgotten how to play with sentences and words as they are expected to write longer compositions. Poems can be funny and fun.
The Australian Curriculum for English requires students experience poetry in every year level and develop an understanding of the devices used by poets. The table below shows how learning about poetry progresses from Foundation to Year 6. The content descriptors can be found in the Literature strand and Examining Literature sub-strand.
Poetry Across the Australian Curriculum
|Literature: Examining Literature|
|Foundation||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4||Year 5||Year 6|
|Recognise some different types of literary texts and identify some characteristic features of literary texts, for example beginnings and endings of traditional texts and rhyme in poetry|
Replicate the rhythms and sound patterns in stories, rhymes, songs and poems from a range of cultures
|Listen to, recite and perform poems, chants, rhymes and songs, imitating and inventing sound patterns including alliteration and rhyme|
|Identify, reproduce and experiment with rhythmic, sound and word patterns in poems, chants, rhymes and songs |
|Discuss the nature and effects of some language devices used to enhance meaning and shape the reader’s reaction, including rhythm and onomatopoeia in poetry and prose|
|Understand, interpret and experiment with a range of devices and deliberate word play in poetry and other literary texts, for example nonsense words, spoonerisms, neologisms and puns |
|Understand, interpret and experiment with sound devices and imagery, including simile, metaphor and personification, in narratives, shape poetry, songs, anthems and odes |
|Identify the relationship between words, sounds, imagery and language patterns in narratives and poetry such as ballads, limericks and free verse
You need an armful of good poems and a list of go-to poets to make the teaching of poetry a little less painful. I have begun collecting a list of poems, poets, books and websites you might find useful for collecting that armful of resources! This list will be added to as I find new things to add to it. If you have any suggestions for additions please comment below.
|The Magic Box by Kit Wright||Spooner or Later by Paul Jennings, Ted Greenwood and Terry Denton|
Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy
Jumpstart! Poetry by Pie Corbett
|Australian Children's Poetry
Australian Poetry Library
Lastly, here are some links from two of my favourite websites for children’s literature resources, The Book Chook and Kids’ Book Review.
Wishing all the best in you teaching of poetry.