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I Think: Reading & Writing Poetry Review by Dawn Oaks

Dr. Sue Vansant
InspirEd Educators, Inc.
360 Waverly Hall Circle
Roswell, GA 30075

I Think: Reading & Writing Poetry by Dr. Sue Vansant is a compilation of lesson plans focusing on analyzing and writing poetry. Intended for the middle and high school student, this curriculum helps to guide the home educator in breaking down the task of teaching poetry into smaller manageable bites.

In its 17 different lessons, this resource explores the difference between prose and poetry, creating mood and tone, the importance of imagery in poetry, literary symbols, and incorporation of figurative language. Shakespearean sonnets, limericks, syllabic poems, free verse, ballads, and shape poems are some of the forms explored.

Each lesson provides a springboard activity that helps to immerse the student in the lesson topic. After completing and discussing the springboard activity, the student analyzes a provided poem that is related to the day's topic. For example, the fifth lesson examines the use of imagery in poetry. The student learns the definition of imagery: terms and phrases that help to appeal to our senses. Then he or she is presented with a copy of "The Fish" by Elizabeth Bishop and is asked to jot down phrases and words from the poem that appeal to the senses. Some lessons (but not all) provide a key of "suggested answers" to help the teacher guide the discussion after the analysis is completed.

I wish there were more writing exercises included. In using this curriculum with my daughter, I often heard her say, "When do I just get to write my own poetry." This is certainly a wonderful, structured resource for learning about the different types of poetry. However, a budding young poet would need to have additional writing opportunities incorporated.

In addition to the lesson plans, I Think: Reading & Writing Poetry provides a good reference for appropriate vocabulary related to poetry, a list of additional resources to incorporate into your study, and differentiated content and skills assessment tools. Overall, this is a good structured approach for analyzing the different forms of poetry and techniques in writing poetry.

Product review by Dawn Oaks, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2009