Although students are guided through the poetic process, some students may have special needs. Though poetry students can utilize the skills, high or low, that they may have. A student with a large, Harvard vocabulary can be encouraged to write more complicated poems after additional research. A second language student can be encouraged to use the language skills they have already acquired to write their poems. You may even decide to allow some native language to be integrated into the poem. A vocabulary wall or word bank can help. Be willing to adjust the assignment difficulty as needed.
Always let the students know beforehand what the purpose of the assignment is. Let the students know if you are looking for specific vocabulary words, specific facts, or stated opinions. The students can adjust their poetry to their own level. It is the information that is important. Not the difficulty of the poem itself.
Always be willing to accept student poem suggestions. Some students will do better if they are allowed to experiment. If they have a better idea for a poem, or wish to go beyond the assignment, let them. Poetry should give the students the freedom to grow in their own directions.
Poetry as Assessment
Poetry can be used to assess what the student has learned, as well as teach the student. When reading student poetry about ancient Athens, for example, the teacher can assess the knowledge a student has about the city, the life, and the culture of the people.
Vocabulary knowledge can be assessed by how well it is used by the poet. Knowledge about concepts and events can be determined by how well students explain through their poetry. Even information about famous or infamous people can be determined.
Using poetry as an assessment can help the teacher know what was learned and what still needs to be retaught. Sometimes the student needs to read “between the lines” to see what the student has learned. With practice and frequent consultations with the student the teacher will learn how to do this.
Students, by sharing their poetry, will also begin to assess their own work. Much learning is done while searching for the “right words” and the writing and rewriting. Students must reflect upon what they are composing. Questioning students about their poetry will help the students determine if they have met the criteria and goals.
Students still need to be given grades for their work. There are many ways to assess students’ poetry. A teacher or student created rubric may be used. A teacher may decide distribute a check off list for students to follow and then grade accordingly.
The rough drafts, of course should not be graded. What should be assessed is the final product. Does it fulfill the requirements stated by the teacher? Does it show information about the subject? Does it explain the concept? Does it correctly use or explain new vocabulary words?
Poetry in history class should be graded on how well the student knows the concepts, events or people of the time period. If the poetry conveys the information requested, then the poetry is successful. Teachers must state what they are looking for in their students’ poetry. The quality of the poetry is not the main factor, the main factory is the historical information exhibited by the poetry.