Saturday, October 20, 2012

Poetry (A Powerful Medium for Literacy)

Up to now, we have read how Mankind has a natural affinity for poetry which began since ancient times and how this form of expression helps the development of language skills. But, even though poetry is such a wonderful tool to lighten up children’s minds, many teachers would argue that it seems to elicit the most groans from students. How can this be?  If we want our students to understand that poetry brings them to a deeper understanding, we need to find meaningful ways to engage them with poetry.

 “It is not an exaggeration to say that all children, at least until adolescence, are natural poets.”
 How does poetry help 21st century literacy? 
Literacy is the ability to read and write proficiently. For the last thousand years, men and women have written on and read printed pages; this was the preferred medium. But now to excel in literacy, people not only must be able to read and write on a piece of paper they also have to be skillful in the use of technology. How can poetry help?
Poetry helps Literacy in two important ways.
First, it improves children’s language skills:
·    “A focus on oral language development through the reading and performing of poetry acknowledges that sound is meaning. When we hear the sound of the words in a poem read aloud, we gain a better understanding of the meaning of the writing.
·    Attention to the language and rhythms of a poem serves to expand oral and written vocabulary. 
·    Students express the kinds of connections to feelings and senses that they experience.
·    Poetry supports the multiple goals of literary development, including making inferences, identifying the main idea, making judgments and drawing conclusions, clarifying and developing points of view, and making connections.” (Hughes, 2007)
Secondly, it gives children material that can be put in multiple technological platforms because poetry is a very versatile art form. It is not only meant to be read aloud but also to jump up from the page so the audience may engage with it. Technology makes this very easy.
“Consider a group of students in an Ontario school who used Corel Presentations to create a Seuss-like poem for a class project. The students combined sound/music, text, and images to synthesize their ideas. In one student’s words, not only was the project “fun” but students were able to “see poetry differently” when they created their poems on screen. The use of new media adds multiple layers of meaning and interpretation of a poem in ways that are not available with a conventional textual format”. (Hughes, 2007)

"Poetry reflects on the quality of life, on us as we are in process on this earth, in our lives, in our relationships, in our communities."

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