I have always found that poetry is a genre within Language Arts that poses significant challenges when it comes to engaging students. Analyzing a poem, finding the meaning behind the words, and determining the subject are some of the tasks that many students do reluctantly. However, I found that the poem sorting activity completed in class is an excellent way to engage learners as it requires them to complete an analysis of the text in a more dynamic way. It gives students the opportunity to respond to the poem in a personal way. In addition, students not only have to think critically and reflectively to explore the meaning of the text in order to sort out the excerpts, but also have to communicate effectively, exchanging ideas and opinions to reach an agreement to make sense of the entire poem.
Once the pieces are all organized and sorted, students have to contribute ideas and work collaboratively to reach a consensus to give the poem a title of their own. Thus, students learn from one another by making sense of the text together and potentially helping each other figure out the meaning of new words or concepts. In the next step, they have to be able to represent text visually, whether they choose to make a poster or a tableau, which requires further communication and collaborative work. This is why the tasks involved in this activity offer an opportunity for students to actively engage in the interpretation of a text as well as to express their own ideas. Not only by having to read and write text, but also by listening to and speaking with their peers and by viewing and interpreting images or visually representing the text, learners participate actively and creatively in all six language arts. In addition, greater student engagement is achieved when there is an opportunity for learners to choose how to complete a task. Thus, allowing students to choose their own excerpts and having the option to visually represent the poem through a tableau or a poster is likely to increase their active participation.
To conclude, through the poem sorting activity as well as some of the other activities completed in class so far, I have come to understand the importance of dramatization and visual representation in Language Arts teaching. I have also gained some knowledge on how to incorporate these two arts to teach things that I never thought could be connected, for example, poems and dramatization. I am also starting to see more clearly how my own experience in Language Arts influences my teaching, that is, how my own personal interests might directly influence what and how I teach, which is something I need to be aware of when I finally become a teacher. My experiencing a student led learning environment, in which curriculum content and core competencies connect, also contributes to reinforce for me the importance of maintaining this teaching approach as much as possible in my practice. Therefore, I look forward to deepening my knowledge in all these areas, as I have realized the possibilities are endless and there is plenty of room for improvement and learning.
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