Yesterday I had the privilege to present with Leanne Drapeau, Greg McVerry, and Sue Ringler-Pet at NCTE. This is part of our yearly investigation into the intersection between poetry and technology. Basically every year for the past five or six years we come together and try to identify cool ways to have students play with technology as students respond to, or create poems. Many of the previous ideas that we presented have been written up in a recent chapter in Exploring Multimodal Composition and Digital Writing.
Basically what happens is after we present each year at NCTE, we all head out to celebrate with a drink and reflect on the presentation. The conversation quickly turns to what we can do in the next year for research and a presentation. The only rules are that it has to involve a Poet Laureate, technology, and ultimately be interested to K-12 students. The focus of the initial five years of this work is as follows:
We began by sharing results from a research project that had students use images both to respond to and write poetry. Using thematic network analysis (Attride-Stirling, 2001), we found that non-verbocentric approaches using technology improved student engagement with poetry, and that technology acted as an identity toolkit (Gee, 2005) for young authors. We acted as a catalyst for our efforts to develop pedagogical strategies to use technology to teach poetry writing.
Billy Collins: Poetry Exploration and Movie Production
Billy Collins (2003) famously wrote that students try to beat poetry “with a hose to find out what it really means” rather than “drop a mouse into a poem and watch him probe his way out” (p. 3). We took the metaphor of a mouse and encouraged students to “read with a mouse in-hand.” In this project students used movie-editing software to create retellings of poems. The images selected provided insight into student responses to a poem, and the editing process required a close analytical reading of poetry not found in traditional lessons.
Kay Ryan: Twitter and “Twitpoems”
The poetry of Kay Ryan has often been described as having a style and wit that is often reminiscent of the short staccato communication found in the “microblogging” service known as Twitter. In this project, we encouraged students to read and respond to many of Ryan’s works, while comparing and contrasting these pieces with “twitpoems” found online. Students also constructed their own “twitpoems” in the same style as discussed in class. Finally, students worked to author multimodal representations of the poems using visual and digital media.
W.S. Merwin: Poetry for Social Justice
Concerned with the impact of digital texts andtools in the society, the authors use the words of W. S. Merwin to focus on issues of social justice in students‟ lives. In this project, students used photographs taken with their cell phones to spark civic engagement. Students began by writing prose and selecting powerful phrases. These phrases were transformed into poetry through juxtaposition of multimodal content with textual expressions of social justice.
Robert Pinsky: Celebrating the Jazz of Poems through Podcasting
Continuing the focus of the richness of language in poetry, we used technology as a tool to limit the media students consume and create while experiencing poetry. Through the use of audio podcasts, students were encouraged to focus on the lyrical and rhythmic quality of spoken performances of poetry, appreciate the history of oral tradition, and feel empowered to record poetic podcasts of their own creation.
Image CC by xetobyte