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Poetic Inspiration from a Word Tree

By Rina Rosmayana, teacher at MTsN Garut

Poetic Inspiration from a Word Tree
The Word Tree made by the teacher was a medium to help students create poetry. It helped them to enrich their vocabulary in writing poetry.

GARUT, WEST JAVA – Every year, when explaining the "poetry writing" lesson to Grade VII in semester 2, the students would spontaneously complain about how difficult it was. So this time I taught poetry using a “Word Tree” to overcome the difficulties and the reluctance of students to write poetry.

The lesson's steps were as follows:

  1. During the lesson introduction I developed the students' motivation by playing with words using a series of lines of poetry. I recited parts of verses (with empty lines) from poems about natural beauty that was appropriate for the basic competencies to be learned. The lines were as follows: "The moon is full //.......// Weaving a tale. The sun is smiling //.......// In its embrace //.......

    First poem answer: " The moon is full // Star studded night // Weaving a tale". The second poem answer:  "The sun is smiling //Beside a cloud // In its embrace //Warming.

    This activity motivated the students to discuss the the patterns of Haiku poetry (5-7-5 syllables per line), Sonian (6-5-4-3 syllables per line). The students would also study free verse which is not tied to a specific pattern.
  2. The class was divided into seven groups with each group consisting of 6 students.
  3. Then, the students looked at a picture associated with the beauty of nature on worksheet 1 and filled out the matrix that was provided with the choice of words inspired by that picture. In this case, the students' already had an understanding of the abstract and concrete words.
  4. Each member of the group in turn said one word, as fast as they could, proceeding clockwise, and the next student was not allowed to repeat any words. Each member collected at least 10 words for each picture observed.
  5. The group that completed the work on the worksheet 1 the fastest got a star. The students copied their worksheets on to a flipchart.
  6. Previously, the students had been asked to cut out small 'leaves'. The next step was for the students to write the words in the matrix on those leaves. The words that were written down could trigger the students' imagination to give the words a value that could be enjoyed by the senses such as sight, hearing, touch, or their feelings. The students were also permitted to include other forms of the same words. For example: "a swish, swishing, swished, to swish”. It was hoped that this would enrichen the students' vocabulary.
  7. After writing the words on the leaves, the students arranged them on sheets of large paper. Each student in the group had leaves of different types and colors so that they could recognize their own selected words.
  8. Next, there was 'window shopping', looking at other students' work. Moving clockwise, the students were asked to 'buy' selected words that they didn't have and add them to add to their collection.
  9. Once the group task was finished, the time had come for the real task, which was writing poems on the theme of the beauty of nature and experiences that the students had had. The students worked on worksheet 2 which gave them information about Haiku (a poetic form with three lines of verse with a 5-7-5 syllable pattern per line), Sonian (a poem with 6-5-4-3 syllables in its four lines), and free verse, along with three examples. Armed with their choice of words from the word tree, the students were asked to write at least three poems.
  10. Finally, I summed up the lesson, allowed the students time to reflect, and assigned tasks for them to write poems and then send them to me via text message for comment.

One valuable thing derived from this learning experience was that writing poetry requires a precise choice of words that have beauty. With this word tree, children learn indirectly about diction and vocabulary which are very useful when writing a poem.

When doing this activity, the students were not aware that ultimately they would have to write a poem. One of the students asked, "Mam, how about if we play again?" The question made me realize that during this lesson the students were really getting carried away with playing and not learning.

But there were things that needed to be improved, especially in the management of time. This lesson was conducted over two sessions. It really needed to be three sessions, because there should be a process of reflection when molding the words from the word tree into poetry.

The changes brought on by writing poetry using the the word tree were that students actively collected vocabulary and took time to choose the right words. They also thought that writing poetry was not difficult as was evident from their reflections where many wrote things like: "I am happy writing poetry using the word tree."

The compliance with the basic competence was also 90 percent, well above the minimum criteria. To accommodate the interest of students in writing poetry, I have created a group on Facebook called 'Sonian MTsN Garut' comprising Indonesian teachers who leave comments and express appreciation for the students' postings.

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