“But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.”
Billy Collins never fails to make me laugh with that line from his poem, “Introduction to Poetry.” My students always laugh too… before accusing me of making them torture poems and stories for deeper meanings. I’ve actually started hearing this from students: “Mrs. Dallas, the curtains might just be blue!” (See the famous “blue curtains” MEME.) As an author, I can totally appreciate the way readers often overanalyze—sometimes even butcher—the written word. But as a teacher, my job is to create thinkers… students who read, analyze, and come up with the correct inferences about a text. Sounds easy, yet it isn’t always—especially when it comes to poetry!
Last year, when the state of Texas adopted the new STAAR standardized tests, they added poetry and drama to the types of texts that students would have to read and correctly analyze. That meant I had to up my poetic game in the classroom. My first job was to help Poetry out with its bad rep. Yeah, in case you didn’t know, Poetry is kind of the outcast in the teenage classroom… we tend to talk bad about it behind its back and we don’t always invite it to sit with us at the lunch table. Most of us give it funny looks in class because, well, we just don’t get it… and it’s easier to ostracize that which we fear or don’t understand. But no more. I was going to make Poetry my best friend and, by extension, the most popular kid in my classes. Here’s how I did it…~ read more ~