Depth and rigor, text complexity, close reading and re-reading are all high priorities in the Common Core English Language Arts Standards. How can we make sure that students develop deeper literacy skills in these priority areas of the CCSS? Poetry can be the vehicle by which some of those priorities are accomplished.
The CCSS were written to ensure that students throughout the country are well prepared for their future. In the Language Arts CCSS, “the standards establish a staircase of increasing complexity in what students must be able to read so that all students are ready for the demands of college- and career-level reading no later than the end of high school. The standards also require the progressive development of reading comprehension so that students advancing through the grades are able to gain more from whatever they read.” (CCSS) As a result of the amount of informational text required in the CCSS there is a shared responsibility for literacy development in students.
Poetry is emphasized in the standards across all grade levels. As the standards emphasize areas such as figurative language, it will help students in going beyond the literal meaning of poetry into a deeper understanding. Through the study of simile, metaphor, alliteration, hyperbole, rhyme, repetition and structure – students learn and understand how to read, write and appreciate poetry.
Another component of the CCSS is the addition of sample performance tasks. These tasks ask children in grade specific activities to distinguish, compare and contrast, paraphrase, analyze structural elements, contrast figurative language, structure rhythm and meter, and identify connotative meaning, hardly the approach in most previous state standards.
Any of the selections of exemplars in the CCSS will meet the goals of complexity, quality and range expected in the new standards. The Performance Task examples highlight the depth and rigor of the study of poetry. Read-aloud poetry selections are also included in the CCSS. Consider the following examples of text exemplars in poetry (this content is all available within the Knovation solutions - path to content and direct URL added in italics for your convenience):
Rossetti, Christina. “Mix a Pancake.”
We have this in an e-book of Christina Rossetti’s nursery rhymes called Sing-Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book. It lives at Language Arts > Literature > British Literature > Victorian Age > Victorian Authors and Their Works > Christina Rossetti > Works Of
URL is http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/rossetti/singsong/singsong.html
Dickinson, Emily. “Autumn.”
We have this in a e-book collection of Dickinson poetry. It lives at Language Arts > Literature > American Literature > American Lit 1800 - 1870 > American Romanticism and Brahmins > American Romantic Authors > Emily Dickinson > Poetry Of - EBook: Poems by Emily Dickinson.
Blake, William. “The Echoing Green.”
We have this in a collection called The Complete Works of William Blake. You have to click on Songs of Innocence and of Experience (index), then click on the title, which is actually “The Ecchoing Green.” It lives at Language Arts > Literature > British Literature > British Romantic Age > British Romantic Authors and Their Works > William Blake > Works Of
Sandburg, Carl. “Fog.”
There is a link to Fog in the right sidebar. Site lives at Language Arts > Literature > American Literature > American Lit 1914 - 1945 > Authors and Their Works, American Lit 1914 - 1945 > Carl Sandburg
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. “Paul Revere’s Ride.”
Lesson plan for teaching Paul Revere's Ride. There is a link to a PDF of the poem. Site lives at Language Arts > Literature > American Literature > American Lit 1800 - 1870 > American Romanticism and Brahmins > American Brahmin Authors > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Neruda, Pablo. “The Book of Questions.”
There is a link to one of the poems from the Book of Questions (which is, remarkably, a book of poetic questions, not a poem) in the right sidebar. Site lives at Language Arts > Literature > World Literature > Modern and Contemporary Literature (1890-Present) > Modern Latin American Literature > Authors > Pablo Neruda
Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 73.”
There are at least two places to find Sonnet 73. A) Poets.org: William Shakespeare, available when you scroll down the site; B) Handprint: Shakespeare's Sonnets, available in right sidebar. Sites live at Language Arts > Literature > British Literature > English Renaissance Literature > English Renaissance Authors and Their Works > William Shakespeare > Sonnets
A) URL is http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/122
Shelley, Percy Bysshe. “Ozymandias.”
Poets.org: Percy Bysshe Shelley, link in the right sidebar. Site lives at Language Arts > Literature > British Literature > British Romantic Age > British Romantic Authors and Their Works > Percy Bysshe Shelley
Grades 11-CCR (College & Career Ready)
Wheatley, Phyllis. “On Being Brought From Africa to America.”
Archiving Early America: Phillis Wheatley. Site lives at Language Arts > Literature > American Literature > American Lit 1750 - 1800 > Authors and Their Works, American Lit 1750 - 1800 > Phillis Wheatley
Collins, Billy. “Man Listening to Disc.”
Site lives at Language Arts > Literature > American Literature > American Lit 1946 - Present > Authors and Their Works, American Lit 1946 - Present > Poets > Billy Collins
Visit the Common Core State Standards at http://www.corestandards.org and explore the grade level text exemplars. Then visit the Sample Performance Tasks to see how these resources can help to make you a better educator. Poems can be the perfect texts to teach literary elements and can provide your students with lifetime benefits of learning to read and experience poetry.