Sunday, November 16, 2008

Craft Lesson-Poetry Content

Red Hot Salsa by: Lori Marie Carlson, Students’ Writing Notebooks

Many students think that writing a well-written poem means making sure certain lines rhyme and including tons of literary elements. While these are important aspects of poetry, content is often overlooked. Some of the best poems are the best because of their content, which is rarely pointed out to students. In this lesson students will look at content in the book Red Hot Salsa and work on the content of their own poems.

Begin by having students share, in groups, their experiences with well-written poetry. What makes a good poem? What do you try to do when writing poetry?

Then explain that a well-written poem does not always rhyme and is not usually overloaded with figurative language. Content is a deciding factor in most good poems. To make sure everyone is on the same page, define content as a class. Then, have students open (or hand out a poem) Red Hot Salsa to a poem of your choosing and as a class decide the content and look at how the author conveyed that content (Invisible Boundaries by Ivette Alvarez on page 24 is a good choice). Do not settle for answers such as being young and Latino (which is on the front of the book), have students really dig deep and see the content the author is writing about.

Afterward, have students pair up and look at a poem from the book (it would be faster to assign poems to each group). After they have discussed the content as a group, have them share with the class. Have them talk about the content and how it affected them while they were reading the poem.

Now, have students go to their writer’s notebooks and find a poem they wrote, or have been working on. Instruct them to look at the content of their poem and make revisions. At the end of class have students share how their poems improved just by looking at the content of what they are writing.