We started our poetry unit in 8th grade a few weeks ago. I’m enraptured. Granted… my students look bored and threaten to fall asleep when we talk about poetic structure and mechanics, and even when we read it, I get a stilted reaction.
But when I let them write it…
I am seeing sides of my students that I didn’t know existed. The shy, socially awkward boy who never does an assignment quite perfectly shows a depth of emotion in his poetry that shocks me. The bumbling jock in the back row, when allowed to write love poetry, whips out vocabulary like “quantify,” which blows me away.
Students turn in poems I never asked them to write.
It makes me grin.
When they have time to write in class, I have a hard time keeping them quiet—but not because they’re not working. It’s because they are so eager to share their work with one another. They write something down, then get up to read it to their friends. They pass their work amongst the desks and praise each other.
Their writing, while sometimes unpolished, shows creativity and emotion.
It’s a beautiful thing.