Using Digital Media to Enhance Student Experience with Poetry at the Middle Level
You’ve probably heard it before, that collective groan that comes with the mere mention of poetry. By the time I get to work with students at the beginning of 7th grade, many have developed some very definite feelings about poetry. Since I deal with students for two years, I decided to see if I could get more of my 7th graders excited about this genre. I decided to set up an inquiry to see if incorporating more digital media in our work with poetry would enhance their experience. After all, my students all have MacBooks at their disposal as part of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. Why not use some of the tools available to us to add to my students’ experience and perhaps their audience to make poetry more meaningful to them.
I formulated a poetry survey to get an idea of what my students’ thoughts were concerning poetry. I used a Google form to develop the survey and the students took it at the beginning of November. By then we had read and discussed a few poems as a class, after the usual moans and groans. The results show the percentage of students who strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement.
I enjoy reading poetry:22%
I read poetry on my own:22%
I usually understand poetry:49%
I often write poetry: 6%
Writing poetry helps me express my feelings: 14%
It’s hard to write poetry:32%
Thirteen students or 18% could name a poet they had read. Most remembered Robert Frost and Shel Silverstein. I believe they remembered Frost from our reading of “Nothing Gold Can Stay”.
Twelve students, 16% had a favorite poet. Most of those named Shel Silverstein.
I felt I had my work cut out for me. Fortunately I had a few ideas to explore.