4 Tools for Teaching with Poetry | Facing History & Ourselves
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4 Tools for Teaching with Poetry

Facing History invites educators to weave poetry into classroom instruction using four of our teaching resources to shed light on historical and contemporary experiences and to help students process their own identities and emotions.

From the work of Edgar Allan Poe to Amanda Gorman, poetry is a powerful medium of expression that has long played an important role in English Language Arts (ELA) education. During National Poetry Month in April and all year long, educators have opportunities to use poetry in the service of many different learning objectives. From shedding light on historical and contemporary experiences to helping students process their own identities and emotions, the medium of poetry offers educators abundant opportunities to help students connect heart, head, and conscience.

We invite educators to consider these 4 resources—Teaching Ideas, teaching strategies, and a webinar—that can be used to weave poetry into classroom instruction throughout the year:

  1. Use Poetry to Teach About Identity
    This collection provides ways for educators to weave poetry into their curriculum in the month of April and beyond
  2. Celebrate the Power of the Spoken Word
    This collection brings spoken word poetry into your classroom to help students raise their voices to make personal, social, and political statements about the issues that impact their lives and communities.
  3. Bio-poem: Connecting Identity and Poetry
    This teaching strategy helps students clarify important elements of their identities by writing a poem about themselves or about a historical or literary figure. Bio-poems help students get beyond the aspects of identity that are often more obvious and familiar by asking them to focus on factors that shape identity. By providing a structure for students to think more critically about an individual’s traits, experiences, and character, bio-poems are a way for students to demonstrate what they know about historical or literary figures.
  4. The Problems and Potentials of Poetry as Witness
    In the webinar—which served as the fourth session of the Global Summit on Repair, Reconstruction, and Restoration—Pádraig Ó Tuama leads a conversation with fellow poets Marilyn Nelson and Juliane Okot Bitek. During this session, Marilyn and Juliane read some of their poems and also discuss the role of poetry in offering public language for pain, remembrance, lament, and creativity.  

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