Poetry and Social Studies

This page has information and resources for incorporating poetry in the social studies curriculum. 

 

Annotated Articles:

 

Finney, M. (2003). A Bumper Sticker, Columbus, and a Poem for Two Voices. Reading Teacher, 57(1), 74-78. Retrieved from ERIC database as pdf.

                Finney recommends using poems for two voices to explore multiple perspectives on content.  Reading the poetry of others allows students to expand their existing knowledge on a subject.  Writing their own poems requires students to make decisions about what aspects are common to both sides and which are in opposition.  It also helps the content to become more personally meaningful.  If students work with a partner to each create a different perspective for the poem, they can engage in rich dialogue and debate as well as learn collaborative writing skills.  Though the article focuses on social studies content (such as the "discovery" of America by Christopher Columbus) it also notes that science content is often perfectly suited for this genre, as well as students' personally relevant issues. 

 

 

Kirman, J. (2007). Aesthetics in Geography: Ideas for Teaching Geography Using Poetry. Journal of Geography, 106(5), 207-214. Retrieved from ERIC database as pdf.

                This article cites the popularity of incorporating literature with social studies but notes that poetry is usually forgotten as a genre.  Benefits include increased motivation and creativity, respecting multiple intelligences and learning styles, and the ability to learn and demonstrate understanding of content.  Some specific ideas I admired were having students write concrete poems in a geographic shape (volcano, plateau, etc.) analyzing poems for geographic information or using clues from the poem to predict the setting, and making a poetry collection describing the people of a certain region.  The article concludes with several annotated resources for teaching poetry. 

Below are some of the poems recommended by the author for use in the geography curriculum:

 

The Cremation of Sam McGee ----> by Robert Service

      Teach about the extreme winter weather of Canada’s frozen tundra.

 

The Cremation of Sam McGee

 

 

The Fisherman ----> by Barbara Anna Morjanovic

      Teachers can use this poem to show the relationship between the spatial organization of a region and the transportation, economic systems, communication and other social aspects. 

 

Starving to Death on my Government Claim ----> by Edward L. Crain

      These song lyrics can illustrate how people change the geographic features of their region, and how these changes (such as farming) affect the people in different ways. 

 

 

Sekeres, D., & Gregg, M. (2008). The Stealth Approach: Geography and Poetry. Journal of Geography, 107(1), 3-11. Retrieved from ERIC database as pdf.

 

              This article has several print resources referenced for integrating poetry and geography.  The author calls this integration “stealth geography” because he believes the instruction will take place during the long reading-blocks that many schools are mandated to keep, which often take up time for social studies.  Therefore, components of literacy and geography instruction are included.  The article also annotates many good poetry web resources, including the homepage for author J. Lewis, who writes a book titled A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme. Some of the recommended websites are mentioned below!

 

 

Recommended Resources:

Staffordshire Learning Net

Geography Poetry Corner

      This website is an interactive site intended for elementary or middle school students.  It has student poems about many geography content areas such as water, weather, world locations, the environment and development issues.  There is an opportunity for students to submit original poems. 

 

 

Poetry Archive

 This website is a resource for finding children's poetry on certain topics, many of which can relate to Social Studies curriculum including family, history, people, places, journeys, peace and war.  The appearance is very kid-friendly and it is well-organized.  You can search the website by poet, theme or poetic form.  

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