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The Most Neglected of the Neglected R: Poetry Research We Have; Poetry Research We Need. Janine Certo, Laura Apol, SeokJu Yoon & Erin Wibbens Michigan State University LARC Research Symposium October 26, 2007.

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The most neglected of the neglected r poetry research we have poetry research we need l.jpg

The Most Neglected of the Neglected R: Poetry Research We Have; Poetry Research We Need

Janine Certo, Laura Apol,

SeokJu Yoon & Erin Wibbens

Michigan State University

LARC Research Symposium

October 26, 2007


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“. . . and I’d like a world, wouldn’t you, in which people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser


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Presentation Overview people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

  • Sources of Data & Methodologies of the Literature

  • The Poetry Writing Research We Have

  • Conclusions/Discussion

  • Implications for Future Research: The Poetry Writing Research We Need

  • Discussion, Comments and Q&A


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A Reading. . . people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

The Writer (Richard Wilbur)

http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15487


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A Researcher’s Definition of Poetry people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

Poetry is literary language used to represent the writer’s [real or imaginary] experiences and to create a virtual experience for readers (Britton, Burgess, Martin, McLeod & Rosen, 1975).


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Sources of Data people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

  • ERIC, Education Abstracts, Proquest Dissertations, SAGE journals online

  • Keywords: poetry, poetry writing, poetic genres, genre, genre development, teacher education, teacher professional development

  • Sources included peer reviewed journals, Handbooks, technical reports, books, and dissertations.

  • Criteria for inclusion: poetry writing, the relationship between reading poetry and writing poetry, a focus on

    K-12 & teacher education and professional development.


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Methodologies of the Literature people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

Qualitative (20)

  • Mostly case study, ethnography, collaborative intervention or self study.

  • A select few researchers used content or discourse analysis.

  • Methods included observation (field notes and/or observational checklists, analysis of student-authored texts, and/or self report (interviews or questionnaires).

  • Mostly descriptive characteristics of the research phenomena.

  • Much of the literature is lacking important details in the historical transitions of qualitative research.

    Quantitative or Mixed Methods (5)

  • Experimental, quasi-experimental, survey, mixed methods


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The Poetry Writing Research We Have: people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted KooserThemes that Define the Review

  • Beliefs and Attitudes

  • Poetic Genre Knowledge

  • Poetry Writing Instruction

  • “Finding a Voice”

  • Teacher Education and Professional Development


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Beliefs and Attitudes people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

  • Elementary students have very basic perceptions about poetry and what poems do (Apol & Harris, 1999).

  • Interest, engagement and enjoyment of poetry builds among elementary students with exposure to poetry writing and performance (Apol & Harris, 1999; Mentzer & Boswell, 1995).

  • Seventh-and eighth-grade students who were saturated with poetry showed an increased liking for writing the genre (Manicoff, 1939).


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Poetic Genre Knowledge people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

  • Elementary-aged children are capable of writing poems independently and with teacher-instructed attributes (Apol & Harris, 1999; Chapman, 1994;1995; Kamberelis, 1998; Rodgers, 1972).

  • Children appropriate material for their own poetry writing from poetry books in their classrooms, radio songs, and their cultural and popular landscape (Dyson, 2003).

  • Urban adolescents use a hybridity of genres, including poetry, to provide a way to express youth identity (Jocson, 2006).

  • Poetry writing can be a vehicle for preservice teachers’ increasing genre knowledge (Rosaen, 2003).


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Poetic Genre Knowledge people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser(Kamberelis, 1998;1999)

  • Most children composed poems that depended heavily on rhyme and singsong meter patterns for their poetic effects.

  • Children who had a difficult time writing poems tended to produce texts that were more like stories than poems.

  • Young children are capable of producing sophisticated poems.

  • Genre development is complex and varies as a function of generic constraints, task conditions, and other contextual variables. Most children displayed much more knowledge of fictional narratives, less on poems.


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Poetry Writing Instruction people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

  • Methods that encourage poetic writing expression among preadolescents include reading poetry, more exposure to poetry, ample time to write poetry, teacher enthusiasm, emotional climate, original thought (not grammar or spelling), visual & auditory aides, praise, and words as tools (Schaefer, 1973).

  • Instruction in the musical elements of poetry did not cause children to write poetry different from children who did not received such instruction, but there was evidence that committed teachers and a leisurely instructional pace were crucial to the success of poetry writing (Duffy, 1968).

  • Technology can be used at all ages to successfully pre-write poetry, organize information and ideas in many ways (Roberts, 2002), and provide a forum for peer feedback while building a sense of self as poet (Kammer, 2002).


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Poetry Writing Instruction people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

  • A sense of, and preparation for, an authentic audience for poetry motivated high school students to write, revise and perform poetry (Kammer, 2002; Jocson, Burnside & Collins, 2006).

  • High school students who read their written original poems improved their oral skills, had increased comfort with oral communication, and had a sense of improved self-esteem and self-image (Kassab, 1984).


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“Finding a Voice” people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

  • Poetry writing allows students to provide a way to express youth identity (Jocson, 2006).

  • Poetry writing can be a vehicle for exploring preservice teacher identity (Rosaen, 2003).

  • Fifth grade boys equate poetry writing with expressing their feelings (Damico & Carpenter, 2005).


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Teacher Education and Professional Development people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

  • Prospective teachers are not required to take courses in or demonstrate poetic interpretation or skill (Stiles, 1965).

  • A majority of middle and high school teachers believe teaching poetry writing is important, but report 94 separate “worries” with regard to teaching poetry (Benton, 1984).

  • Human and material resources organized in a collaborative intervention between university/expert and urban youth can create an extended idea of material resources and pedagogy (Jocson, 2005).


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Poetry in America Report people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser(Schwartz, Goble, English & Bailey, 2006)

  • The survey focused more on reading or listening to poetry, less on writing poetry.

  • Parents and teachers are influential in early poetry experiences.

  • Users were more likely to have studied the reading and writing of poetry in every grade level than were nonusers.

  • Users were more likely to experience a range of poetry activities (reading, reciting, memorizing, writing) in school than nonusers.

  • Poetry users reported more positive experiences in school than nonusers.

  • When teachers were mentioned as early influences, high school teachers were mentioned more than teachers at other levels.


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Conclusions and Discussion people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

  • There were many qualitative studies of poetry writing. Qualitative researchers should make the data collection and analysis procedures more public and include strategies to monitor internal validity and researcher subjectivity.

  • It is arguably challenging to engage in research about poetry because of the intrinsic characteristics of poetry.

  • “No general set or sets of structural descriptions have been written for poetry that are comparable to the kinds of text grammars created for stories and informational texts.” (Kamberelis, 1998, p. 21)

  • The dearth of poetry in the curriculum may explain the lack of poetry writing research and instruction.


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Conclusions and Discussion people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

  • There are negative experiences and limited perceptions of poetry across the ages.

  • Research suggests that enjoyment, engagement, interest, genre knowledge, and a sense of voice & identity may increase with more experiences in poetry writing and exposure to poetry.

  • There is accumulating, suggestive evidence about what constitutes good poetry writing instruction, but the results should be considered with caution.

  • Variables studied in the literature are mostly affective; less research is focused on how to improve the quality of students’ poetry writing.


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The Poetry Writing Research We Need people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

  • We need further research on how to develop teachers who have the knowledge, skills and dispositions to become excellent poetry writing teachers.

  • We need research that connects teachers’ poetic genre knowledge with their ability to support student development in this area.

  • We need research that examines the impact of professional development on teachers’ instruction and ability to scaffold, and to provide appropriate experiences for children. We need research that captures rich descriptions of teachers’ approaches to writing instruction in poetry, but also measures that report children’s growth (Donovan & Smolkin, 2006).

  • We need an update: a new content analysis of basals and texts prompting poetry writing.


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The Poetry Writing Research We Need people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

  • We need to pursue research lines that capture and/or measure environments and contexts that motivate students to write poetry.

  • We need research that captures what students can do with poetry writing across the grades.

  • We need research that documents and describes how students engage with all the recursive facets of the writing process, including revising their poetry (independently, through peer writing groups (face-to-face and online), and through student-teacher conferencing).

  • We need research that documents what kinds of feedback and assessment are necessary to support and evaluate poetry writers.

  • We need research on how to support all children’s poetry writing, including students with special needs, different learning styles and different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

  • We need research integrating textual and contextual analyses, social and cultural experiences with poetry writing grounded in life histories.


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A Reading people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

by the presenters


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THANK YOU! people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

“. . . and I’d like a world, wouldn’t you, in which people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.”

-Ted Kooser


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Works Cited people actually took the time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m sure, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets.” -Ted Kooser

  • Apol, L., & Harris, J. (1999). Joyful noises: Creating poems for voices and ears. Language Arts,76(4), 314-323.

  • Benton, P. (1984). Teaching Poetry: The rhetoric and the reality. Oxford Review of Education, 10(3), 319-327.

  • Britton, J. N., Burges, T., Martin, N., McLeod, A. & Rosen, H. (1975). The development of writing abilities (11-18). London: Macmillan.

  • Chapman, M. L. (1995). The sociocognitive construction of written genres in first grade. Research in the Teaching of English, 29, 164-192.

  • Chapman, M. L. (1994). The emergence of genres: Some findings from an examination of first-grade writings. Written Communication, 11, 348-380.

  • Damico, J. S., & Carpenter, M. (2005). Evoking Hearts and Heads: Exploring Issues of Social Justice through Poetry. Language Arts, 83(2), 137-146.

  • Donovan, C. & Smolkin, L. (2006). Children’s understanding of genre and writing development. In C. MacArthur, S. Graham & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of writing research (pp. 131-143). New York: The Guilford Press.


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  • Duffy, G. (1968). Insights on the teaching of poetry-writing. The Elementary School Journal, 69(1), 32-37.

  • Duke, N. K. (2000). 3.6 minutes per day: The scarcity of informational text in first grade. Reading Research Quarterly, 35(2), 202-224.

  • Dyson, A. (2003). The brothers and sisters learn to write. New York: Teachers College Press.

  • Jocson. (2006). "Bob Dylan and Hip Hop:" Intersecting Literacy Practices in Youth Poetry Communities. Written Communication, 23(3), 231-259.

  • Jocson, K., Burnside, S., & Collins, M. (2006). Pens on the Prize: Linking School and Community through Contest-Inspired Literacy. Multicultural Education, 14(2), 28-33.

  • Jocson, K. M. (2005). "Taking it to the Mic": Pedagogy of June Jordan's Poetry for the People and Partnership with an Urban High School. English Education, 37(2), 132-148.

  • Kamberelis, G. (1999). Genre development and learning: Children writing stories, science reports and poems. Research in the Teaching of English, 33, 403-463.

  • Kamberelis, G. (1998). Relations between children's literacy diets and genre development: You write what you read. Literacy Teaching and Learning, 3(1), 7-53.

  • Kammer, J. (2002). From John Donne to the last poets: An eclectic approach to poetry. English Journal, 91(3), 64-71.


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  • Kassab, L. (1994). A poetic/dramatic approach to facilitate oral communication. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA.

  • Kinloch, V. F. (2005). Poetry Literacy, and Creativity: Fostering Effective Learning Strategies in an Urban Classroom. English Education, 37(2), 96-114.

  • Kooser, T. (2005). The poetry home repair manual. Lincoln, NE: The University of Nebraska Press.

  • Manicoff, R. (1939). The Effects of Extensive Teacher-Reading of Poetry. The English Journal, 28(1), 50-56.

  • Mentzer, M. & Boswell, B. (1995). Effects of a movement poetry program on creativity of children with behavioral disorders. Impulse, 3, 183-199.

  • Roberts, S. K. (2002). Taking a technological path to poetry prewriting. The Reading Teacher, 55(7), 678-687.

  • Rodgers. (1972). A Process for Poetry-Writing. The Elementary School Journal, 72(6), 294-303.

  • Rosaen, C. (2003). Preparing Teachers for Diverse Classrooms: Creating Public and Private Spaces to Explore Culture Through Poetry Writing. Teachers College Record, 105(8), 1437-1485.

  • Schaefer, C. (1973). Young Poets on Poetry. The Elementary School Journal, 74(1), 24-27.


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  • Schwartz, L., Goble, L., English, N. & Bailey, R. (2006). facilitate oral communication. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA.Poetry in America: Review of the findings. NORC/The University of Chicago:submitted toThe Poetry Foundation.

  • Shapiro, S. (1985). An analysis of poetry teaching procedures in sixth-grade basal manuals. Reading Research Quarterly, 20(3), 368-381.

  • Shapiro, P. P. (1969). The Language of Poetry. The Elementary School Journal, 70(3), 130-134.

  • Steinbergh, J. W. (1999). Mastering metaphor through poetry. Language Arts, 76(4), 324-331.

  • Stiles, L. J. (1965). What Shall We Do about Poetry in the Schools? The Elementary School Journal, 65(4), 175-178.


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