BY DAVID DEACON
In order to help inspire her students in and out of the classroom, English teacher Tonya Jenkins is teaching ninth graders the many forms of poetic art.
Jenkins, who has been teaching at Cooper City High for 13 years, has not spent much time on poetry lessons in the past. In order to include such an important writing style into her daily lesson plans, Jenkins has found innovative ways to incorporate poetry into the English common core. At first, the lesson was just targeted for her gifted class, but the style of writing could not be contained in one class, and the lesson eventually spread to her other ninth grade classes. What started out to be a new lesson for her students soon turned into a way for her students to express their emotions in a healthy manner.
“When it comes to poetry every student has a place to express who they are and become deeper than a student,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins is including the poetry lessons in her English classes during school to bring the joys of poetry to her students in the most convenient way. Jenkins must teach her students basic literary devices such as similes and metaphors. The best way to teach the creative devices is to use creative styles of literature and teach ways to use the devices. Not only is this an original way to teach, but also it also effectively shows understanding of how to use the lesson.
“It’s not just the actual lesson being taught, but through poetry you can learn and put your own creative spin on things,” Jenkins said.
All throughout the year, students have been learning how to make short stories; Jenkins wanted to take a break from this and do a little “outside the box” work. Even with poetry being quick and easy to create, it is jam packed with word play and is a lot to get across.
“In this lesson I’m trying to revive poetry, it’s a beautiful form of writing that got lost in translation,” Jenkins said. “The reason why poetry is so vital is that it’s a pathway and a bridge to emotion.”
At first the students resisted the new lesson on poetry; however, after getting into a poetic groove the students started to respond.
“The lesson did not sit well at first, and then you could see a transformation in the students as they started to create their works of art,” Jenkins said.
This is not the first time Jenkins had to deal with uncooperative students; during the reading of the novel Night, Jenkins had to encourage her students to read the novel. Jenkins is not a stranger to resistance by her students, and it was because of her willingness to see a lesson through that is making this poetry lesson a success.
“It’s amazing how at first the students would groan when I mentioned poetry and now they hound me to read their poetry because of how proud they are of their masterpieces,” Jenkins said.
Once the poetry is finished, Jenkins plans to have her own little corner of expression by hanging the poetry in the back corner of her classroom. The corner is a reminder of their proud work and that they can express themselves in other ways.
“In poetry you can find grace in the smallest of things, you can fall in love, have better respect, and find yourself,” Jenkins said.