How To Teach a Poetry Writing Workshop for Teenagers

Teaching a poetry writing workshop for teenagers will unearth a lot of potential poets, for the reason that teenagers are in the time of their lives when they become an unending source of emotions and experiences. Writing poetry can be a good avenue for teenagers to express their thoughts and feelings about their own journey to adulthood. As their teacher, helping teenagers learn how to write poetry can help them channel their energy properly, and who knows, along the way, you might even find a Frost or a Shakespeare in your class as well!

  • Prepare a syllabus. The first thing to do is to create a syllabus or at least, an outline of what the workshop is going to be like. Formulate objectives and find out what the class' goals would be. At the end of the workshop, your students would have to have a final output. It can be a class book of poetry, or it can be a night of poetry reading in front of an audience, or it can be both. The class should be aware of this right from the start. This will put everyone on the same page.
  • Prepare reading resources. Determine which genres you are going to include in your class. There are many and you can discuss as many as 3 genres in a session. Provide a good variety to suit the many tastes of teenagers. Don't forget to research particular poets and poems, which would represent each genre – the more, the better. Create a reading list that students can peruse during their free time. Provide resources, if not actual copies, to your students. Briefly discuss the poets before the poems. Poets' lives can be fascinating and their experiences hold the key to their written work. Your students will surely be interested in these bits of information as well.

    You can use the flow of workshops suggested below. However, it is always your prerogative to employ the schedule that would best work for your class:

  • Discussion. This includes defining the featured genre, identifying the poets and poems representing the genre, and analysis of the forms, structures, and interpretations of the poems. Allow one to two sessions.
  • Assignment. Give assignments to the students. They should be able to write a poem that belongs to the genre just discussed in class. Depending on the class schedule, this can be given as homework or class time can be used to do the writing. Allow one session.
  • Workshop. This is the fun part. Depending on the number of participants in a class, you may employ different ways of featuring your students' works. If it is a small class, you can devote 5-10 minutes per student to critique his work. If it is a large class, you may ask for volunteers, or you may assign several students per genre. Remember to give guidelines to the class and that constructive criticism should be followed. Facilitate the discussion and always leave each discussion on a positive note. It would be best if all the students are given copies of the featured works during class. Allow one to two sessions.
  • Project. About 3 to 4 sessions of the workshop should be devoted to finalizing the class project. Guide your students but let them do the work. They should feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the workshop.

You can also include talks from resource people, or even attending poetry reading sessions in the lesson plan.


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