Friday, February 3, 2012

Poetry...it's not a joke anymore!

I am the worst joke-teller alive and that is one of the many things I learned about myself in college. Recognizing my weakness in this area, I decided to learn to tell one joke really well. And I did. It is awesome. But, it requires motions so it must be told in person and I won't risk my one good joke failing here in writing!

When I spent the summer before my senior year of college in Spain, I decided that I needed to be bilingual in my joke telling. The other joke is a play on the English langauge so it would not work in translation. My good friend, Jimmy, taught me this joke, "¿En qué se parece un tren a un plátano? El tren no espera y el plátano no es pera."

Okay, I will wait for you to pick yourself off of the floor from laughing so hard...

My jokes may be really bad but I am a sucker for playing with language. In fact, this is my favorite radio show and I believe it should be required listening for all teachers of English language learners but that is for a whole other post!

Historically, poetry and related language play have been reserved for the final six weeks of the year in most curricular scope and sequences.  In part, because it was not tested and, in part, because it is often misunderstood, poetry has been one of those extraneous genres that was often skipped or treated very superficially.

While poetry may not seem as "meat and potatoes" to the reader's diet as realistic fiction, poetry develops that elusive skill of inferring that we are constantly seeking to develop in our students.  Poetry, by its very nature, makes us look more closely at the text with the presupposition that there must be another layer of meaning that we as the reader must search out. 

Texas's revised ELAR/SLAR standards and new STAAR test are putting a spotlight on poetry:
3.5 Analyze, make inferences and draw conclusions about theme and genre in different cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding (2008 TEKS)
Figure 19 D
Make inferences about text and use textual evidence to support (2008 TEKS)

In the fall, I saw this anchor chart in development in a third grade dual-language classroom in Stephenville:
We are starting to pay more attention to poetry but, for you bilingual and dual-language teachers, my question is this:  Who are your favorite Spanish poets for children and what are your favorite poems and/or anthologies?

I was in a second grade bilingual classroom last year and observed a group of students practically fighting over several poetry anthologies by Maria Elena Walsh.  I would like to compile a list on this site of more favorite poets.  Please let me know your suggestions!

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