How can I help my 4th-6th Grader with the poetry studies in Language Arts?

José_de_Ribera_040At our most recent Co-op Parent Check-in, a parent asked about the Poetry Studies for 4th-6th Grade Language Arts. She wanted to know how to help her student understand the poetry better. Were there any explanations, for example?

The goal of the Language Arts Poetry Studies is to teach the student the tools necessary for understanding all poetry. On the one hand, he or she learns the mechanics ~ stanzas, verses, lines ~ and on the other hand, the student learns vocabulary. This second item is usually the cause of any difficulty in understanding the poetry. With that in mind, a parent and student’s best resource is a dictionary. When there is a problem word, you will be able to look it up and explain its meaning to the student. Then, ask the student to try and to explain the line again. 

We want to encourage you and your student to interpret the poem on your own. Any time you rely on other resources, such as Cliff Notes or Norton Anthologies and the like, you run the risk of “flavored” explanations. In other words, the person writing the explanation is writing with a purpose or agenda that can skew what the author actually meant or defeat the point of the poem. Ask simply what the poem means all by itself and how does it inspire you. 

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