By the time students have arrived in high school, they may have had some good experiences with poetry, but many may still be unsure of what poetry is or how to immerse themselves in its language. This method helps students, particularly those in grades nine and ten, return to an immersion in the language itself, which is essential to being able to read, experience, and appreciate poetry for what it is—language art.
Essential to this lesson is the idea that by focusing on the levels in poetry and initially noticing the amount of language levels, students can experience Poetry without focusing directly on what poems mean, eventually organically arriving at meaning–making on their own. This helps students avoid, as Billy Collins wrote in his “Introduction to Poetry”, “beating [the poem] with a hose/ to find out what it really means” and provides students with an authentic, mindful way of immersing themselves in the language. This method also prepares students for writing about their ideas informally or formally in later assignments.
To the teacher: Please familiarize yourself with the link on the blog, the PowerPoint introduction, the language level cards, the Poem Level Meter, and the Student Progress Tracker handouts prior to engaging in this lesson with students.