Tuesday August 26, 2014

Students turn timeless poetry into digital expressions

Keith Anderson

Juniper Ridge Grade 7 student Sofeya Smith, left, shows students her page on the Internet, featuring a William Shakespeare poem, with teacher Rolynda Simpson.

Students at a Kamloops elementary school are reviving an age-old art using the tools of modern technology.

On Monday, teacher Rolynda Simpson and her Grade 7 class at Juniper Ridge held a poetry reading in the school’s library, gathering their favourite sonnets and verses for a group of kindergarten children they help monitor during the lunch break.

But rather than recite their poems from memory or read lines from a book, Simpson’s students brought the words to life through a website called Glogster.

“It’s a new twist on a very old subject,” said Simpson.

Glogster is a social media platform that incorporates text, video, photos, animation and audio into blog-like postings that take the form of interactive posters.

Simpson heard about the website from her daughter, who used it as part of her Grade 8 studies.

Curious as to how it could be applied to poetry lessons, Simpson asked Juniper Ridge teacher-librarian and tech wizard Tracy Poelzer to help Simpson’s class create poetry “glogs.”

“Tracy worked with the kids and took them step-by-step through Glogster while I was teaching the poetry part,” said Simpson.

It proved to be an engaging exercise. Each student created a Glogster poster expressing individual design elements and notations particular to their poem.

And many of the students, such as 13-year-old Sofeya Smith, included audio of themselves reading their poems.

At Monday’s poetry recital, Sofeya simply pressed a touch-screen projector to set her poem in motion. Immediately, the audience was hearing her recite Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18.

“I think Sonnet 18 is really pretty,” said Sofeya afterward. “It’s really romantic.”

Sofeya’s teacher said the students were keen participants in the digital endeavour and she plans to use the program again next year.

It’s not the only way to get teens interested in the subject, but it is definitely proving to be an ideal way to merge the old with the new, to learn language arts while also preparing for the future.

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