Poetry Friday

Today I announced Poetry Friday to my classes. I explained that is it done online each week and that we will be bringing into our classroom from now on. We worked with two poems today- one for our poetry and one for our reading strategy lesson. The kids really enjoyed it and seemed enthusiastic about making Poetry Friday a weekly occurrence! I am very happy and already planning what we will do next Friday.

Today’s reading strategy lesson focused on reading difficult text. I had the students read “Don’t Go Gentle into that Dark Night” by Dylan Thomas. They read it once, then rated their understanding on a scale of 1-10. They highlighted parts that confused them (some highlighted the whole thing!), and circled words and phrases they understood. They repeated these steps twice more, for a total of 3 readings. After finishing, they answered a few questions about the process- how they felt, how their thinking and reading changed over the course of the three readings, and any questions they still had. I gave them very little background on the poem and sent them to work. At the end, about half of each class decided the poem was about death. We discussed reading and rereading for difficult text and how it helped them. I then told them that another strategy for reading difficult text is to get background information. At that point, I told them the poem was written about Thomas’ ill father, before his death. All of a sudden, a collective lightbulb went off- they got it! Immediately, a hand went up. When I called on the student, she said, “Ms. Readingzone…..this poem is so sad. And I didn’t even know that until I reread it and got background information!” It was a great feeling. :)

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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3 Responses

  1. How wonderful of you to include Poetry Friday as part of your teaching regimen. I’m glad the kids enjoyed it – and it should help them all with their vocabulary building, too.

    When I did school visits last April, I was interested to note that the “problem children” – the ones with Asperger’s, ADHD, and behavioral issues that required aides and/or them being at isolated desks instead of at “desk islands” with other kids – really “got” the poetry. I think it’s more than poems being short. I think it’s the distilled language and imagery, and the sense of rhythm that comes in the best poems (even the free verse ones), that really speaks to those kids. In a conversation I had with Bruce Coville, who’s done a ton of class visits over the years, I asked him if that was typical of class visits, or specific to poetry. The answer was “specific to poetry.” I’d love to hear if the poetry helps some of your more difficult class members to learn.

  2. Kelly-

    I will definitely update the blog as I continue with Poetry Friday. I am interested to see if the poems help some of my more difficult students learn. That’s a fascinating idea and I will be watching closely!

    sarah

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