Poetry: What do they know?

Three weeks into tutoring and we have been working on poetry. Surprise, surprise… the two boys I tutor had been having a difficult time with it in school. We will be wrapping it up tomorrow, but I decided to post about some of the things we did so I have it for future reference.

DAY 1: What do they know?

I simply gave each student a list of poetry terms and had them star which ones they were familiar with. I didn’t want to use language they didn’t understand and it’s always good to start positive (hey! look how smart I am!) Of course, every student on planet earth seems to know what similes and metaphors are. They can all recite: “A simile uses ‘like’ or ‘as.’ A metaphor doesn’t use ‘like’ or ‘as.'” They always seem to miss the comparison part… Which is why it is not uncommon to give them a poem, tell them to star all the similes, and have them star EVERY SINGLE TIME the word “like” is used. I was surprised how many terms they were comfortable with. Now at least I knew how to talk to them about poetry. I had them read several different types of poems and just had them mark them up. What did they notice? What did they miss? I had them tell me about the poems. What they liked, didn’t like. What they understood, didn’t understand. This was also the first day with the students so it helped me get to know them a little better as well. We then did the Musical Metaphors or Searching for Similes in Songs game (I haven’t decided what to call it yet… any ideas?). I’ll write about that one in the next post. Shorter is better, am I right?


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