Focusing on themes of identity, origins, and the power of names, this year's sixth graders started off their Language Arts classes with an exploration of poetry. "Poetry is a wonderful gateway to the larger world of expressive writing," says middle school humanities teacher Gina Cargas. Examining the work of 20th and 21st century poets like Kelly Norman Ellis, Danez Smith, Muriel Rukeyser, and Idris Goodwin, students investigated how structure, word choices, and poetic devices to creatively convey meaning and emotion. Drawing on the work of such poets, sixth graders then wrote three of their own poems. To conclude the unit, students will have the opportunity to perform and record one of their poems as part of a virtual poetry slam.
"Starting off the year with poetry also allows students to deepen their social-emotional skills and their reflective practice," adds Ms. Cargas. "Poetry is a healthy, creative, and affirming way for students to express strong emotions and connect with others."