Why Is Poetry Important?

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  • 0:00 Why Poetry?
  • 0:36 Community Building
  • 1:19 Literacy Instruction
  • 2:06 Cultural Experience
  • 2:52 Expression of Emotion
  • 3:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Instructional time is precious, and as teachers, we like to know why we are prioritizing certain content. This lesson will help you understand some of the reasons it is important to include poetry in your curriculum.

Why Poetry?

We all know that time is limited, and teachers have to make instructional choices. Poetry is one of those topics that often gets dismissed as whimsical and unimportant. However, it is a powerful instructional tool and an important art to study at any age. Poetry is a way to understand how language and symbol systems work. It is a worthy expression of emotion, or deep feelings, and aesthetics, or a sense of what is beautiful about the world. High school seniors Sam and Catherine will tell you what they have gotten out of their study of poetry over the years.

Community Building

Sam remembers his elementary school teachers relying on poetry to build community. In first grade, they would learn a new poem every Monday. As a class, they would practice the poem over the course of the week and have conversations about it. Sometimes they would even sing the poem or do little dances to its rhythms. Sharing this poetry with his class made Sam feel as though they were a literate community.

Sam's fourth grade teacher gave each student a binder for collecting poems they love. Twice a month, a few students would get a chance to share their favorite poems with their classmates. This became a great way for Sam and his classmates to learn about each other's tastes and opinions. Sam thinks that poetry can be a great help for building community in the classroom.

Literacy Instruction

Catherine feels that it was her early teachers' use of poetry that got her off the ground as a reader. Because poetry often uses language in specific and unusual ways, it drew her attention to the written word. She remembers her second grade teacher doing a lot of cloze activities, or fill in the blank passages, involving poetry. She also remembers learning about rhyme and word families by reading poems with rhyme patterns.

As she got older, Catherine learned to become a more sophisticated reader via poetry. It was her middle school teachers' inclusion of poetry that taught her about metaphor, symbolism, and alliteration. Catherine feels that the lessons she learned about literacy via poetry have actually made her a more critical reader of all sorts of genres.

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