April is Poetry Month and this is a perfect time to take advantage of all the benefits that poetry has for our ESL students. Poetry is a very powerful tool for ESL because it provides the students with structure, rhythm and rhyme.
I start each unit with introducing my students to many different types of poems that they will be able to recreate with little difficulty, then we move into more complex issues.
Here is how I start the unit: Biography, Color, Acrostic, Dictionary and Concrete.
Biography Poems are about the author. In this blog I am going to focus on Biography Poems. I am going to give you a few examples of my students work.
I am a boy.
I am little.
I am beautiful.
I am intelligent.
I am smart.
I am from Ecuador
I am the best.
I want to be a great man.
-by Diego (age 12, been in the US for 9 months)
Beautiful, shine, smart
Sister of Sharon
Who is a good friend and a good student
Who loves her family and she love to help the people
Who fears monster, and some people
Who finished with her boyfriends
Who wants to be a doctor
Born in Puerto Rico and living in New York
-by Wendy (age 11, been in the US for 2 years)
Before my students wrote these poems, I gave them examples of each poem and they wrote their own version. The first biography poem, "I am", needs to have 7 sentences starting with I am, the last sentence starts with I want to be.
The next poem has a very specific format. It is very important to explain what each line means and what is required for each line. Some students will not understand what an adjective is but if you ask them to describe themselves they will understand. So we need to break it down for them.
Line 1 - First name
Line 2 - Three adjectives that describe the person
Line 3 - Important relationship (mother of ... son of)
Line 4 - Two or three things, people, or ideas that the person loves
Line 5 - Three feelings the person has experienced
Line 6 - Three fears the person has experienced
Line 7 - Accomplishments
Line 8 - Two or three things the person wants to see happen or wants to experience
Line 9 - Where the person lives
Line 10 - Last Name
Poetry can be done thorough out the year, and should be a time for your ESL students to express themselves. Stay tuned I will be posting more examples and student work.