Saturday, January 18, 2014

Notes from the Classroom

Poetry can be tough to teach to high schoolers. Most all cringe at the mere mention of the dreaded “P” word! I have found out that their aversion is due to over thinking. Most think there is something to “figure out.” Really it is about turning the analytical mind off, inhaling words and exhaling inspiration. Like taking a long drive down a lonely, foggy road. Admittingly the classroom is not the best environment to soak in something as alive and expansive as a great poem. I have been trying to make the learning experience magical. Students are finally understanding there is no wrong way up the mountain and poetry can be a bridge between dream, emotion, and logic. If you feel moved or inspired or a rush of blood to the head, you are right!
A normal boring afternoon can be transformed from diving into words and coming back up with treasures of metaphors and beautiful language. Changing minds on this has been a slow process…. The hook was Tupac….. High School students love his poems. After realizing poetry is not just for dead Englishmen, we were ready to start! Pairing Tupac with Dylan Thomas worked amazingly and I could see the wheels of their minds spinning after reading:

“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.”

I have found the most simple and least dogmatic way to teach comprehension to be three easy steps:
- 1:What does it say(Paraphrase)
- 2:How does it say it(Devices used)
- 3:What does it mean(How does it relate to me)

By breaking it down in a simple way, students gained confidence and realized how fun playing with words can be!
Next we moved on to one of the most fun arrangement of words to ever be assembled: “Jabberwocky”

If you memorize this:

- It will enhance the quality of your life
- Give you vivid dreams.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

'And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Really, we are living our own poems with each breath an exclamation!

A Bohemian Love Story from The LANE on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 5, 2014