By Claire Pentecost

The new school year is underway. I came into this year with quite a sense of confidence, having done this once before! (You can laugh at me here.) I knew that quite a few administrative changes for educational impact were in the works at my district, but I was very excited to have a year under my belt.

When I returned, I found that there were new requirements for how and when units would be taught, mostly reasonable. The biggest shock so far has been that the curriculum we are required to stay with moves much more quickly than my students are prepared for.

The first unit is poetry, and my students are now expected to read a poem and write their own analysis. This analysis must include the mood and author’s tone and be supported by evidence and an analysis of the figurative language. Today, the second day of the unit, the majority of my students are proud of themselves for picking out rhyme!

I’m supposed to model and then have them write their first analysis tomorrow, but since that includes more than rhyme, I’m forced to slow it down. My plan at the moment is to continue practicing locating figurative language and identifying the effect it has on the reader. Every day feels like starting from scratch.

I think I have two issues: I haven’t made the content relevant to the students, and we are dealing with some abstract concepts. I’m brushing up on ways to mediate between concrete and abstract, and I will follow up with my results. I have incorporated song lyrics to gain more interest, but the results haven’t been as good as I hoped.

Do you have any suggestions for linking poetry and figurative language to the lives of middle school students? Leave a comment and let me know!