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Shannon Iverson, May 15, 2018 in 7-9 Dialectic Forum
Does anyone have suggestions on how to teach accent and breves in poetry? I have tried explaining this to my thirteen-year-old son, but I get a thirteen-year-old stare and, "Uh, I don't get it." Is there a trick to helping to 'hear' the accents on syllables?
Best way I've found is to read aloud the poem to students, a few times as needed, and have them more or less imitate. Everyone, children and adults, will recite a poem just a little bit differently. I'm sure this was also the case in the Ancient Greece and Rome and in Shakespeare's day as well.
I agree with Br. James. Reading the poem aloud, and exaggerating the rhythm as you scan the poem (marking the stressed and unstressed syllables) is really helpful. It is easiest to start with several iambic poems and mark them as iambic. Make sure they are regular, as many of them will have metrical irregularities - although you should teach students to expect and deal with those irregularities early on. Then do several trochaic, then several anapestic, etc. After lots of practice like this, students will begin to recognize these meters on their own. In fact, my students can often figure out a complicated meter faster than I can.
Well said. I would add that the study of metrics, a very good thing to do, sometimes goes better when not mixed at the same time with doing the poem simply as a poem. I am far from the brighter light in identifying or teaching metrics, and this is but a suggestion, but I think the integrity of the poem as-is should be absorbed first. For years, I have taught a handful of Shakespeare's sonnets in my Poetry class without a whisper about the form and metrics, and the following week or two, have demonstrated the iambic feature and the set rhyme scheme. The children are amazed, and I would like to think the measure of that surprise and admiration they have at that point was the result of withholding the mechanics of the poem until later. Just a thought.
Yes, I absolutely agree! In fact, we spend far more time just reading and enjoying poetry than actually scanning. I really like Charlotte Mason's idea of immersing yourself in one poet for a good long time, reading each poem several times over and just delighting in the words and images and rhythm. You might be interested in a blog post I wrote about that very thing...https://thereadingmother.net/2018/01/09/reading-poetry-with-children/
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