Top Strategies for Teaching Poetry to Adults

Posted by on January 26th, 2016

When students take the GED® exam, they will be asked to read and analyze a piece of poetry. The language arts section requires analysis and discussion, and your adult students may not pass the test if they are not comfortable reading poems. In order to best prepare your students, it is essential that you focus on new strategies that will encourage close reading. Here are a few things you can do to foster an appreciation for poetry.

Start Simple

Poetry is intimidating, and many adult learners begin with a negative connotation of the topic. Students are not interested in memorizing literary definitions or trying to find hidden meanings. The burden feels lighter when you begin with dissections of familiar pieces.


Encourage Students to Write Poems of Their Own

If you want to build your students’ confidence, ask them to write poems of their own. Simply provide a prompt and demonstrate different styles and formats. Students can read their poems aloud in class, allowing other students to ask questions. What did the poem mean? What was the tone of the poem?


Analyze Songs

Your students might be surprised to learn that songs are often poems. Bring in some music for the students to analyze. You might think of popular Disney tunes, Beatles classics, or even some modern hip-hop. Pass out the lyrics, allowing students to read as the song plays. After the song is over, discuss specific elements. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the piece? Why is the song powerful? Then, have students share their favorite songs.


Learn About Famous Poets

One of the best things you can do for your students is to teach them the history of some of the most popular poems. Describe the time in history when the poem was written, the circumstances of the author’s life and so on. If your students understand the lives of the poets, they are much more likely to connect with the meaning of the poems.


Consider Reading One Poem Each Day

Focusing an entire class period on poetry can be difficult. Students need time to do less demanding activities to recharge after a poetry lesson. Consider starting off each class with a poem rather than dedicating a unit to poetry.


Poetry can be difficult for even students who excel in language arts. By incorporating these lessons, you will see your students embrace poetry rather than just accept it.


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