Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Then they swarm around me

Week four of the quarter, we tackle poetry and literary devices. Across the various campuses of my school, English teachers use the same syllabus; week four, we're all tackling poetry and literary devices. Last quarter, on here, I talked about the poems we discuss. I still used the same four poems--I've almost got them all memorized, dammit!--but I approached the lesson differently today.

I had asked each student to choose one poem out of the four and then to write a response to it in preparation for today's class. Then students got together with the other students who had chosen the same poem. Interestingly, twelve chose "Phenomenal Woman," ten chose "Dream Deferred," and a few each chose "Do Not Go Gently" and "Road Less Traveled." Within their groups (and I divided the larger groups into smaller ones), students identified literary devices within the poem, how those devices contributed to their understanding and/or appreciation, and why this particular poem resonated with their group. They also had to choose someone to recite the poem for the class.

(Something interesting: in my class of 37, I have 7 male students--the most guys I've had in one single class--but still less than twenty percent of the class. Out of the four poems, three were read by males, and I have a few boring theories as to why this is so. I bit my cheeks to keep from smiling when a fifty-something male read Angelou's anthem: "Pretty women wonder where my secret lies..." )

Anyway, this went well; however, I had trouble regrouping afterward. Students were talking over me - not loudly, but it was distracting nonetheless. My usual tactics for halting those discussions didn't work. I have a week to think about it.

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