I had forgotten how fun magnetic poetry could be. I have played around with it in the past and knew that it existed, but it took a group of excited freshmen to remind me of the sheer thrill that some random words glued onto magnets can offer. Magnetic Poetry is great in possibilities, but some students have a difficult time limiting their word choice. They want the exact word that they're looking for. On the other hand, some students are frustrated because they just can't start. They have a hard time in coming up with a poem without any direction.
One solution for the latter is the Magnetic Poetry Game. It comes with thematic cards that require the writer to stick to a particular theme or mood. This focus allows students to use their imaginations as to how they're going to express the abstract word written on their card, but it gives them a place to start. This alleviates some of the pressure of coming up with a brilliant poem on one's own. Some students are self-conscious about their writing (or, in this case, arrangement of magnets) and have a hard time playing around and working with meaning and form. It seems that one of the best lessons for this type of student is that there is no right answer or correct usage of a word when it comes to Magnetic Poetry. I think that if this approach is used more often in the classroom, then students may feel more comfortable playing with words in their writing, whether it be verse or prose.
Play is important. Every kindergarten teacher knows this to be true. Somewhere along the line though, teachers and students start to think that play is silly and that rules are serious. I work hard to break the notion that words are stiff and boring and unmovable. Magnetic Poetry allows me to illustrate this point in my classroom. I started this lesson as an option for students. There was other work going on in the room, but if they chose, they could come and play the Magnetic Poetry Game. Two students volunteered right away. Soon, there were five or six students playing. They were laughing and joking and showing their poems around and helping one another to switch out words. It was awesome. Next time a student is stuck in his or her writing, I know that I can refer back to this experience as a reminder that poetry is not a right/ wrong or yes/ no enterprise.
Thanks to my practicum teacher for being hip and cool enough to bring this in for us! Now, I just need to buy it for my classroom.
Also on my wishlist is Magnetic Shakespeare. I'll talk about my thoughts on playing with Shakespeare's words in a later post.