You’re reading your umpteenth textbook of the day, eyes red, brain scrambled. Are you actually absorbing the information? You don’t even know anymore.
And you’re not alone – few students enjoy reading hefty textbooks and note-taking. Recognising this, one teacher in the US decided to mix things up a bit by introducing a new learning method.
Now, instead of writing essays, Margaret Simon encourages her pupils to turn in found poems, which are created by taking words and phrases from a text you’re reading and then putting them together so they read like poetry.
“Found poetry is the text equivalent of collage,” she wrote in an article for We Are Teachers.
— Margaret Simon (@MargaretGSimon) January 31, 2018
So how does writing poetry help with your studies? While it may sound like a rather elaborate form of procrastination, it is believed found poetry can help students absorb information.
It causes you to reread the text with purpose, picking out the most important points.
In Simon’s experience, her students struggled to engage when they were just expected to digest literature through reading.
So instead, as they read together, she encouraged them to “highlight words and phrases that stood out to them and text that helped them imagine being there.”
Then she instructed the students to pull out the words from their highlighted text and arrange them into a poem.
After, the teacher asked students to share what they had written.
Despite working from the same text, no two poems were the same. Yet every student had understood and succeeded at the task.
“When students write from different perspectives, they understand that writing is not about getting it right. Writing is about expressing yourself,” Simon wrote.
— Dr. Liana Silva (@liana_m_silva) March 21, 2017
While this works brilliantly for fictional texts it can also be applied to academic texts.
Picking out the most important bits of information is one of the key skills needed to write a good essay. Found poetry requires total engagement with the text and allows you to access the relevant info in easy to read notes. Plus, if you’re any good, it will sound great too!
So maybe next time you’re stuck reading the same page over and over and getting nowhere, you could just write a poem instead.