by Nayeli Ellen
As educators continue to seek innovative ways to enhance student’s writing abilities, poetry is emerging as a powerful tool to improve argument writing skills. In an article published by KQED’s MindShift, it has been revealed that teachers are increasingly incorporating poetry into their writing curriculums to help students develop stronger arguments, enhance critical thinking, and promote engagement.
Poetry has long been considered a complex and intricate form of expression, requiring careful analysis and interpretation. By using poetry as a basis for argument writing, educators hope to tap into these qualities to foster students’ critical thinking and analytical skills.
One of the vivid examples is presented by Brett Vogelsinger who has been teaching English for 20 years and currently teaches ninth-grade students at Holicong Middle School in Bucks County, PA. In his latest book, “Poetry Pauses: Teaching With Poems to Elevate Student Writing in All Genres,” he explores the power of poetry to help students develop stronger arguments and elevate their writing across various genres. By providing examples and anecdotes from his own classroom experiences, Vogelsinger demonstrates how poetry can be utilized as a tool to sharpen students’ critical thinking and communication skills.
Vogelsinger challenges the conventional notion that poetry is reserved for baring one’s soul and evoking deep, dark emotions. Instead, he argues that poetry can be an effective medium for presenting arguments and making claims, as demonstrated by the works of 19th-century Black poet Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.
To illustrate the relevance and potency of poetic arguments, Vogelsinger shares a story about one of his students, Mike, who used a poem by 13th-century Persian poet Rumi to diffuse an argument between his parents. The incident highlights the power of succinct, metaphorical language to convey a message and persuade others.
Vogelsinger also provides a step-by-step guide for using Rumi’s poem as a model to help students craft their own arguments. He suggests that students create a short poem that follows a similar format, outlining what should be done, and what should be avoided, and using a metaphor to make the point visual. By following this process, students can create memorable and enduring arguments that resonate with readers.
Three Steps for Incorporating Poetry into Argument Writing
The article generally outlines a three-step process for using poetry to sharpen argument writing skills.
- The first step involves having students read and discuss a poem. By engaging in a group discussion, students are encouraged to think critically about the content and structure of the poem. This exercise also helps students develop their communication skills, an essential component of strong argument writing.
- The second step is to have students identify a claim within the poem. This may involve identifying a theme, message, or central idea that can be supported by evidence from the text. By focusing on a specific claim, students are encouraged to think more deeply about the poem and its possible meanings.
- The final step is for students to gather evidence from the poem to support their claim. This may involve identifying specific lines, phrases, or images within the text that support their argument. By collecting evidence and organizing it coherently, students develop their ability to craft strong, evidence-based arguments.
The author further emphasizes the importance of incorporating figurative language and metaphors in argumentative writing. These elements not only make the writing more engaging but can also effectively drive home the main point of the argument. By encouraging students to experiment with poetic techniques in their writing, Vogelsinger hopes to inspire them to develop more powerful and persuasive arguments.
The incorporation of poetry into writing curriculums not only provides students with a unique and engaging way to approach argument writing but also exposes them to diverse forms of literature. This exposure can help students develop a deeper appreciation for language and its various forms, fostering a lifelong love for literature.
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