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Poetry Transcription

Poetry Transcription

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Written by Liz Prather
January 07, 2014

One of the mainstays of my creative writing classroom is poetry transcription, a writing exercise I learned from Rob Lockhart, a teacher with the Boyd County school system.  I learned PT from Rob in 2004 during the Morehead Writing Project Summer Institute and have used it with every grade, class, and ability level since.

In linguistics, transcription is the act of rendering spoken language into written language. Similarly, in medical transcription, a transcriptionist listens to a doctor’s abbreviated verbal recordings and writes down the information in a patient’s files.

With poetry transcription, I read a poem out loud to my students, word by word, line by line, break by break. As I reach each word and line, I give students information on capitalization, punctuation, spelling of homonyms or odd non-words (I’m looking at you, ee Cummings), line and stanza breaks.  They listen intently to my cues and write what they hear.  At the end, a student reads the whole poem from start to finish out loud. We may or may not discuss it. Or the poem  might just hang there like an unbroken piñata or a mushroom cloud, depending on how our meta-moods are swinging that day.

Read the guidelines and an example at my blog Teach Like Everyone’s Listening

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