“If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.” – David Carradine
Do teenagers fancy writing poetry? Yes, they do! Some of them may not know about it yet, but they certainly do. Our mission here is to give them the key and help them open a new door.
(Photo from ELTpics by Ron Morrain)
We shall start with something easy (not to get discouraged right away – after all, Shakespeare didn’t start with Sonnet 116, or else it wouldn’t have been named 116, would it?) and something that brings some positive feelings like those we get when someone has noticed something about us they deem worthy of praise (oh yes, despite our “aww no haha” response, a nicely put compliment would mean the world or, at least, Hawaii to us for some 5 minutes of our life). Right, today we’ll write an acrostic poem devoted to precious us.
Writing an acrostic is a quick and fun activity that could be used as a nice “getting to know you” activity with a new class and suitable for learners of all ages. An acrostic uses the letters in a topic word to begin each line. All lines of the poem should relate to or describe the topic word, e.g. learners’ names. Here’s how I’d describe myself:
Step 1. Brainstorm with your learners what an acrostic is (or what it could possibly mean – “cookies” is probably the funniest guess I’ve got so far). Show your own poem. Don’t ask whether they liked it or not – we need no rhetorical questions in the classroom, do we?:)
Step 2. Even if you (or your students) have a sudden urge to start creating here and now, take some time to brush up on adjectives describing personality before attempting to write an acrostic. Give the word clouds with adjectives to students and ask them to circle the adjectives they would like to be used about them (or wouldn’t like – it depends on how sweet or wicked your students are).
Step 3. We’re not THAT narcissistic to write a poem about ourselves, are we? (Teachers don’t count here – after all, all people are created equal and only the finest become teachers). Ask your learners to write their names on the other side of their word cloud paper and give it to their partners. You may complicate the task a bit – ask your students to try to add some ‘nice touch’ to other poems written by their “brothers in pen”.
Step 4. “Voila and enjoy the ode” step.
You could also try acrostics for some tricky spelling words or words that are hard to remember.