Sunday, September 13, 2015

Magnetic Poetry Words: A Successful Tool for Teaching Teens to Write Poetry

One thing I love doing more than most anything is teaching high school students creative writing. I can not describe the joy it brings me to hear how their minds think and how they create. I love to watch their eyes light up as they see the words they've written, and the confidence they acquire once they realize they can be writers.

It may seem harsh, but all students in my creative writing classes are required to participate. They are also required to read what they've written before their peers -- believe me I know it's difficult to read what you've written, but they can do it! By the end of classes, the students are reading with confidence.

I typically teach flash fiction and use writing prompts in my classes. I've always wanted to teach poetry, but the boys (more often than the girls) complain and moan about writing poetry. Since I want to keep the students engaged, I've been skipping the poetry lesson -- until now.

Recently, I started playing with the magnetic poetry set my husband bought me for my birthday. I've had it for years locked in it's original bottle. I guess I was a little leery to open it, but I am so glad I did. I enjoyed using it so much that I started writing a lot of poetry with those words.

At first I found it difficult, but with time I realized that the beauty of the exercise was not just in the finished poem, but the journey it took to get there. Writing this way takes a little longer, but it is well-worth it. (By the way, you still have to edit.)

I decided before my first creative writing class of this semester, that for the very first class I was teaching poetry. I printed out several pages of words. (I created one and used a pre-made printable word list.) And, my daughters and I cut them out and placed them in Ziploc baggies.

I took the words to class and the students used them. There were no complaints, and two students even asked to take a bag of words home (both boys!) One of my students wrote three poems in class, and a couple of students decided they would use the words to write some flash fiction, too. All in all the exercise was real success.

I have an old set of words which still work great, but I've found a couple of magnetic poetry sets that I want to get in the future. The first is the Edgar Allan Poet Kit -- which looks like it would be a lot of fun, and really useful for teaching teens. It is a "box of words filled with mystery and fear."

I think using this with a lesson on Poe's poetry like the Raven. Would be awesome!

Another poetry set that I have on my wish list is the Nature Poet Magnetic Poetry Kit. I enjoy writing a lot of nature poetry, and like I said I have really grown to love these kits.

These sets are also good idea generators. Sometimes I see a word that I've not considered for a subject, and the words just flow. If you haven't used them in the past, I hope you consider giving them a try!

Bare Feet

Encompassed in trees
here I stand
breathing the beauty
of this wooded land.

At peace with myself,
I stand free to dream.
So slipping off shoes,
I run through the green.

My burdened soul’s uplifted
in the pale morn light,
a new day has broken,
gone is the night.

My tightly tethered heart
has grown white silken wings
and flies through the sky
up where the jay sings

(c) Susan Elliott

Have you ever used a magnetic poetry kit?