Why Students Are the Best Poetry Critics


March 3, 2023


If you’re a high school teacher, you know how tough it can be to get students excited about poetry. You must show them it’s not only for the nerds.

Researchers have discovered that teachers use a variety of strategies and methodologies when engaging pupils in poetry. These include putting enjoyment first, discussing pupils’ conceptions from the start, creating a safe classroom atmosphere, and scaffolding pupils’ interpretations.

Using poetry to teach social skills

Poetry can be used to teach children about being better people. It can help them learn to take care of their emotions and think of others positively.

Students who find it difficult to express their feelings may be more comfortable writing poems to communicate their feelings. They can also use poetry to learn about current issues and how they affect their lives.

When reading a poem, students will need to focus on the poem’s language and rhythms. This helps them understand how the words work together and why a particular term is chosen.

Often, poets will use different styles and rhyming patterns in their poems. Teachers like Jenna Papotto, a second-grade teacher from Massachusetts, will read a poem aloud or act it out to help students understand the wide range of lyrics and rhyming schemes.

Using poetry to teach emotional support

Poetry is an effective way to teach students about being better people. It can help them develop emotional sensitivity, compassion, and empathy, all skills necessary for healing.

Another great way to use poetry is to encourage students to write about their experiences and emotions. This can be especially helpful for students struggling to express their feelings.

A 2021 study found that children encouraged to read and write poetry experienced reduced fear, sadness, anger, worry, and fatigue. The activity also provided a distraction from their stress and an opportunity for self-reflection.

Poetry is also a valuable tool for teachers to teach students about the world around them. For example, a teacher may use poetry to explain the seasons’ differences. They can even show students how poetry can evoke different emotions in readers by using imagery and sensory language.

Using poetry to teach critical thinking

Reading poetry helps students develop critical thinking skills. This involves asking “why” questions about a literary work and evaluating the text’s content.

According to veteran high school teacher Marty Skoble, poetry shows students that words have meaning and can be used to connect people. It also mimics the rhythms of life, helping students understand its cycles and repetition.

Moreover, it encourages higher-order thinking (HOT) skills that ask students to cultivate their opinions and interpretations of a work. HOT skills include interpreting facts, inferring and connecting, explaining cause-and-effect relationships, and comparing points.

As a result, students can analyze and evaluate texts based on logical reasoning. They will also learn how to synthesize and apply the ideas they have gleaned from literature to new situations.

Using poetry to teach creativity

Poetry is a very creative form of communication, and it has the power to shape the way that you see the world. It also teaches students to use creativity and critical thinking skills, such as imagery, metaphor, analogy, analysis, observation, attentiveness, and clear communication.

The type of poetry and the metaphors used in poems have been shown to affect creativity levels. Researchers manipulated the kinds of metaphors and styles of poetic narration in two experiments: Study 1 examined narrative/open analogies, and Study 2 studied descriptive/conventional metaphors.

In the first study, participants who read poetry showed increased fluency and flexibility of thinking when reading a narrative poem. On the other hand, those who read non-poetic text showed a decline in both measures. This suggests that the reception of metaphors that are novel and open may have a positive impact on creativity. In contrast, the reception of conventional, closed metaphors could negatively impact fluency and flexibility.