Sunday, December 9, 2012

Saving Can Be Poetic

I know it is not poetry, but has caught my attention for saving money. Zeitprice as a huge database of prices on oil changes, haircuts, childcare, and internet service providers. For example if you need to know how much an oil change at Wal-mart is, ask Zeitprice and they know even for your specific location.

Gutenberg and Librivox For Teachers

Gutenberg and Librivox are two essential tools for teachers. What are they? Gutenberg is the largest (that I know of) database of public domain texts. They have poetry from all over the world, free, and in multiple digital formats. It is easy to find a poem to copy and print. It is also easy to compile poems into a textbook or coursepack. What's even better is that many of the texts on Gutenberg have linked audio so you can listen as you read through Librivox.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New Ad For Levi's

Levi's has another ad using poetry. This time it is Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart" that gets the MTV treatment. For all the controversy that surrounds these ads (see the YouTube comments if you don't know what I mean), I think it is great to have poetry as part of pop culture. Not every poem is meant for a mass audience, but the mass audience can get something from poetry.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Common Core Curriculum Loves the Masters

The Common Core, a new set of curriculum standards being adopted across the country, loves poetry. When the suggested reading list came out, the list included many of the masters featured here: Whitman, Shelley, Shakespeare, cummings. All of their writing has the complexity and vocabulary building muscle that the new curriculum seeks. Many teachers are lamenting the loss of popular YA literature, but I'm glad the masters of the written language are getting top billing. Those popular novels will continue to excite young readers but the masters of poetry excite a deeper part of the soul.

What better way to dive into these poems than to deconstruct them as you can here, rearrange them, make new sense out of old language?

Part of the message of the Common Core is that for too long teachers sought out the writing that students wanted to read rather than making students want to read great literature. It is possible to make students excited about Shakespeare and Shelley, but to do so one has to tap into the moral centers of these complicated works, draw out the underlying dilemmas that make them enjoyable across cultures and generations. As they struggle with these dilemmas, teachers can draw them into the language and teach them to swim.

I have nothing against YA novels or popular books like Twilight. They excite a whole generation of book readers. Yet, often the moral dilemmas in these books do not reach the psychological depths of their predecessors.   

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Teaching Romantic Poetry

Teaching Romantic poetry in high school can be daunting. The language is outdated and the texts are too long to fit neatly in to a six week unit. But the value of digging into Shelley's Prometheus Unbound far exceeds any short story. The text contains all of the philosophical pondering of a treatise while telling a story. The solution is not to cut Romantic poetry out of a high school curriculum. Instead, cut Romantic poetry down to a manageable size. Have students work with bite-sized pieces of the poem. A 10-line section of excellent poetry has all the drama of a much longer work.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Arranging Sentences to Learn Grammar

This author claims arranging and rearranging sentences written by masters of the language help students learn grammar. It is called sentence composing. Try it with the magnetic poetry posted here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Grammar Games to Play with Magnet Poetry

Magnetic Poetry games can be powerful teaching tools.

Here is a quick list of games to play using internet based magnet poetry games like this one.

1. Have students make poetry: I know this one is obvious, but it remarkable how beautiful the poetry can be. The students will be proud of themselves.

2. Have students practice making simple sentences: Magnet poetry games are loaded with enough nouns and verbs to make a few simple sentences. Have students practice making as many sentences as they can or challenge them to make it into one long sentence.

3. Have students sort words into parts of speech. Designate the four corners of the screen as places for four parts of speech and challenge students to drag words to the correct corner.

Here are three other magnet poetry sets to try:
e.e. cummings, Walt Whitman, Percy Shelley.