Poetry in the Elementary Classroom: Promoting Integration and Social Education through the use of a Thematic Element
Poetry is an often overlooked cornerstone of the language arts curriculum. Its exclusion from a great many elementary classrooms is most unfortunate because the genre has great potential for learning across the curriculum--and even in social areas--if implemented in a well-devised program of study. Poetry can, in fact, be used as a central thematic element in the classroom to reinforce student learning in virtually every subject and to create a positive learning environment in which students work together cooperatively and are able to share their thoughts and feelings in expressive and creative ways. It seems likely that one of the main reasons many professional educators eschew the study of poetry in the classroom is that there is increasing pressure to meet standards in other subjects: math, science, social studies, and even physical education. Yet, it is entirely possible to use poetry in daily instruction while taking little time away from other subjects, and even plausible to emphasize certain aspects of other curricular areas that have previously gone unearthed. For these reasons, poetry has every reason to find a central position within the elementary learning experience and even to become nestled within the curricular design of the entire school year. This essay will evidence theoretical grounds for inclusion of poetry in the elementary classroom and suggest methods for accomplishing this end. Discussion of theories about learners and the learning environment will be augmented with ideas for curricular decisions and instructional strategies, along with the classroom implications of these elements.