Teaching Content Through Poetry

One of the greatest parts about teaching is when we come up with that amazing lesson. We’ve planned it the night before, and the content is rich and meaningful. We even visualize the reactions on our students faces when we tell them about the first shot fired at Fort Sumter.

Then there is the reality.

We’re in the middle of the amazing lesson because we are so passionate about The Civil War, and the looks on our student’s faces slightly resemble those watching paint dry. They may even lack interest enough to start misbehaving. Epic. Teacher. Fail. If only Drake could sing us a song about The Civil War, or global warming we’d be good, right?

I don’t have all the answers and I never claim to have them. However, I have found something that has helped my students learn content in a way that doesn’t bore them to tears. It’s not Drake. (Sorry). However, it does resemble song lyrics. Teaching content through poetry is a great way to get your students to actually remember factual information. Here are six reasons why.

1). Poetry is like music. Especially if you are using rhyming poetry, it tends to stick in our minds. If you are rhyming specific facts together, they are much more likely to be remembered.

 

2). It’s unique and different. If you told your students instead of reading out of a text book or article, you were going to read them a poem, it may peak their interest. Peaking their interest is number one. Once we’ve got them, we just have to hold them for that lesson, which is where the poetry comes in.

3). Poetry creates visuals. Aside from the catchy lyrics that stick in our minds, poetry paints pictures as well. When combining rhyme with mental images, content will tend to be remembered better and for longer periods of time.

(This picture is from my Poetry that Teaches Community Helpers resource which you can find here.)

4) It can be used for any content area/grade level. I’ve written poetry detailing the careers of each president. I’ve also written poetry that talks about keeping those silly germs off your hands! History, nutrition, science, it doesn’t matter. Poetry can be used to teach any type of content to any grade level. I’ve taught the complexity of The Underground Railroad using poetic terms for sixth graders just as easily as writing about exercise for kindergarteners. Each comes with its own set of difficulties, but each yields the same amazing result. The children enjoy it, and interact with it better when it’s in poetry form.

Find a free download of this Abraham Lincoln Poetry here.

5) It is great for fluency/comprehension. Teachers tend to tell me often that my seasonal poetry sets (found here) are great for helping with fluency. The rhythm and rhyme are perfect ways to get students reading. Content poetry can be used in the same way. Once the content is delivered and comprehension assessed, using the poetry as fluency practice is another great way to get that content to stick!

6) It is great for English Language Learners. My poetry for ELLs has been a game changer in delivering vocabulary and content. Packed with visuals and rhyme, my ESL students love reading about different topics in this unique way. Find a free sample of my poetry for ELLs set here.

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