Thursday, March 15, 2012

Teaching and Discussing a Poem

Question: What is one method for teaching a poem?

Answer/Quote: “In order to prove to your students the efficacy of class talk, try this: have the class read a poem for homework, assigning a third of the class to return with two or three questions they really want answered; assigning the next third to return with pictures or objects (magazine cut-outs, drawings, collages, tactile things and the like); assigning the last third to return with connections they have made between the poem’s ideas and their personal lives: the similarities they see between the poem and the contemporary world, the memories the poem conjures. Questions, images, connections—these are the things that occur in our minds as we read.”

Quote: “Discussion begins with a volunteer reading the poem aloud. Then the students parade around class showing their pictures or objects before individually explaining their selections. The class may then question individuals. The next set of individuals may offer their questions or connections to the class, spurring dialogue. That is, class talk may begin anywhere.” P. 37.

Comment: A good method for turning the interpretation of a poem over to the class, thus reducing the teacher’s participation in—I almost said “domination” of-- the “discussion.” Believe me, I’m guilty of that kind of “discussion.” RayS.

Title: “Talk for the Mind.” JI Tsujimoto. English Journal (January 1993), 34-37.

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