Louise’s Blog

My take

Last year I revised my Poetry 9 unit. It turned out a fun unit – for students and teacher. It was a hefty unit, so I am trying my best to explain it in short, and with some creative paragraphing.

We started by listening to music to show how they are all singing poetry when they sing or rap their favourite music.  (Well, most of their music, and not all award-winning poetry, but that was not the point.) Students were encouraged to listen to their own music, and identify the poetic value of the lyrics. We shared! Next, students had to find their own definitions and examples of a list of figures of speech I provided. They had to transfer this to the handout. Googling for information was fun and quick for some, and challenging for others – especially since they expected me to provide all the links, and even the information. After students set quizzes for each other, completed and marked them, we moved on to discovering different types of poetry. This time I provided the website. Students had to write their own poetry: acrostic, limerick, cinquain, haiku and a short lyric – the lyric only if they felt up to it. After reading, chatting about, and analysing several poems – all with a theme related to earth-keeping – we started working on our end-of-unit project. In groups, students were provided with some online reading (several articles that had to be synthesized) on why recycling is important, how to recycle and what happens to recycled goods. Groups had different topics: a general overview, batteries, paper, aluminium, composting, glass, plastic, electronics, and hazardous waste products. Each group reported back to the class. Next, students were given the task of creating something beautiful from recycled goods. I shared some ideas with them, mainly via YouTube, and then they were given time to search on their own. In the end, each student had to:
~ write a poem on earth-keeping
~ publish the poem somewhere, e.g. on social media, chalk on sidewalk, post to postboxes, and take photos of him/her doing so
~ film him/herself / or find someone to film him/her creating a new product from garbage (recycled material) –  glass, fabric, wood, paper, plastic, etc.
~ build a PowerPoint (and present to the class) on which he/she published his/her poem and read it to the class, placed the photos of his/her publishing his/her poem, and embed the video of his/her recycling project.                                                                    ~ He/she also had to write out a commitment to being a better earth-keeper, and share it with the class on the PPT.

One of the issues I found interesting in Pangrazio’s article -“Reconceptualising critical digital literacy” (2016), and a little troublesome at the same time, was the reference to issues of social class, race and gender. It reminded me of the challenge we, as teachers, face to meet our students on equal ground. Social inequality was somewhat of a challenge, as a few students could not do any work at home – either because there was no computer (believe it), or because a family had to share one device, or because the computer was outdated / did not have access to PowerPoint. Students worked together, sharing devices – computers, iPads and phones. The multimodal feature of this unit also involved students on many levels. They found that not all websites were trustworthy, or provided clear examples, forcing them to be critical of the information they found. It also forced them to be engaged with each other as they read and shared, not only what they have read, but also their opinions on the viewpoints of the authors. Students remarked how ironic it was to work on, read about, and discuss mountains of discarded devices that litter our world, and how best to recycle them to limit the damage – on exactly those devices. It made for interesting conversation.



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