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Poetry Club Evaluation

While it didn't change the world or suddenly make my students rock-star readers, I do think the poetry club made a difference. I passed out a short three question evaluation form on my last day in class. I asked:
1.What was the best part of having the poetry club this semester? 
2.Which was your favorite poem? (You can write the title, the author, or just describe the poem)
3.Did you ever read a poem or part of a poem? (circle one) Y N Which one?
(You can write additional comments on the back, if you need to)

Some of the answers to question #1 were vague, generic or unhelpful (one student wrote, "Missing some class"); some were answering a different question altogether; but some were jewels of insight into the mind of seventh graders. Here are the responses to #1 that I think are most telling (all are copied verbatim from that student's survey):

1.What was the best part of having the poetry club this semester? 
  •  Everything! The rymes, the poes, everything I loved everything about all the poems everything
  • to read every morning after we get done with our starter.
  • It taught us how to read and understand poems
  • The best part is that we learn about poetry.
  • The best part was when everyone is attending to read
  • getting to know the poem. and liking the poem. and hearing people reading to mak it rhytem and sound good.
  • I like the poetry club because Ms. Miller helps us that poems are not boring or lame so now I enjoyed the poetry club first semester so Ms. Miller thats all.
  • I think we need one
  • When everybody got to read if they want to
  • That we had gotten to read the poems together with Ms. Miller and talk about them together as a class.

2.Which was your favorite poem? : [number of votes]
  • Montage of a Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes: 13
    • "Dream Boogie": 5
    • "Jam Session": 3
    • "Dream Boogie Variation": 2
    • "Nightmare Boogie": 1
    • "Boogie: 1 AM": 1
  • "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou: 4
  • "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" by Langston Hughes: 3
  • "9." by E.E. Cummings: 1
  • "Cutting Greens" by Lucille Clifton: 1
  • "The Emperor of Ice Cream" by Wallace Stevens: 1

Now, it could be argued that Montage was listed as the favorite because it was the last poem set that we did. There's probably some truth in that. However, that set of poems was far and away the group's favorite --- they loved the repetition, the musical stylings, and of course, the rhymes. Considering that some students wrote down poems that we had read in October, I think their answers are pretty authentic and not just about proximity. 

3.Did you ever read a poem or part of a poem?
Yes: 18
No: 8

I'm a little bit embarrassed to say that I didn't keep very good records of who read, and what, and when. I think the "yes" number of 18 is a little low, especially since there were around 4 students absent on the day that I passed out the evaluation. At least one of the absent students was also a reader, so she did not get a chance to respond to the evaluation. 

That aside, I am very pleased that over 50% of the class volunteered to read a poem or part of a poem. This is a class with twelve inclusion students, and many of those students volunteered to read despite their struggles with reading. One such student was determined to read on the last day, and my cooperating teacher stood right next to him to help him with any words that he stumbled over. He did an excellent job, and I think he was pretty pleased with himself. A few non-participatory students read, too. For some, I think they do not participate because they are shy. For others, I think it's because they're "too cool." I was really glad that so many students asked to participate!
Whitney Miller-Nichols,
Nov 29, 2010, 7:21 AM