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Language is a Virus - Make Teaching Poetry More Fun

Languageisavirus.com, aside from offering many well-written and insightful articles about the field of creative writing, also provides a list of online tools that can actually help students come up with some very creative poetry, even if they are having a difficult time getting started with writing poems.

Teaching creating writing can be difficult enough, but teaching poetry has its own challenges. Aside from the fact that it is not really practical to improve a child's creative abilities or natural talents, it is still possible to provide inspiration that every child needs to explore their own creative abilities.

Creativity takes many different forms, and for a student to discovery their own abilities, it's important to guide them in the creative process.

An interesting, though oddly-named website that can help creative writing teachers with that task is Language is a Virus.

This website, aside from offering many well-written and insightful articles about the field of creative writing, also provides a list of online tools that can actually help students come up with some very creative poetry, even if they are having a difficult time getting started with writing poems.

Brainstorming Fun Poetry with Language is a Virus

Language is a virus is a well-made website that has been around since 2001. It includes areas about authors, a how-to section, and even a section that can help with novel writing.

However, if you are struggling with new ideas and creative activities to use in a classroom where you're teaching poetry, Language is a Virus can help in that area as well.

When you first visit the website, you'll see a main menu that includes a link to the various "Poetry Generators" that the site offers.

teaching poetry
Language is a Virus Main Page

However, for the bulk of the best creative writing tools that Language is a Virus has to offer, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the main page. Here, you'll find links to all of the innovative online poetry tools that the site offers.

teaching poetry
Language is a Virus Footer Links

While there are certainly just poetry generators that provide random lines or entire poems, the truth is that most of the tools you'll find here are actually meant to provide inspiration for you to create your own unique poems. They are meant as brainstorming tools to help get your creative juices flowing.

One example of these is "Cut Up Machine", which actually takes an existing poem or lyrics, and will slash up and dice that poem into small pieces and then put it back together again.

poetry websites
Cut Up Machine

Another really interesting and useful tool is called "Text Collage". This tool literally takes random works of art focused on different emotions, and then focuses on a specific emotion and creates brand new words from those original masterpieces into a new artistic masterpiece. The work of art includes all of the word ideas portrayed in different fonts and at different locations on the screen.

poetry websites
Text Collage

The odds are pretty good that if you have students observe these random text collages a few times, that some of the words and ideas that are displayed will provide those students with new and exciting ideas of new poems to write about. Sometimes, all it can take is a single word or group of words to spark inspiration, and that's what the Text Collage tool is all about.

Another really interesting and useful poetry tool is "Sentence Builder". This resource will let you help students create new ideas from an existing phrase or sentence they may already have in their mind as a starting point for a poem. The way it works is that you take that sentence and break it into four parts. Then you rewrite each of those four parts into three different phrases that are rewritten differently.

poetry websites
Sentence Builder

When you click "Go", the online app takes those phrases and recreates them into a variety of brand new sentences. It is actually astonishing how many unique sentences that Sentence Builder can conjure up with just the single "seed" sentence that you started with.

poetry sites
A Variety of New Sentences From One

At the bottom of the results page, you can even click on the option to save the list of new sentences to a text file so that you can go back to them later for new ideas. It even lets you auto-format the sentences by customizing the character between sentence parts, and adding a period at the end of the sentences.

poetry sites
Save the Output Sentences

There are of course lots of random poetry generators located at the website, which do nothing more than just create brand new randomly generated articles out of words and phrases floating around in computer memory. These new poems are sometimes very insightful and amazing - who knew that a computer could generate such great poems?

poetry sites
Poetry Generator

If you have ever enjoyed playing with the poetry magnets that have become very popular magnets for refrigerators across the world, then you'll love the "Electronic Poetry Kit" tool offered on this site.

The goal of this activity is as simple as it sounds, but it is also so much fun that your students are sure to be willing to spend hours playing with it - not realizing that in the process they are learning out to construct excellent poems.

teaching poetry
Poetry Magnets

If students are really stuck for ideas, the "Poem Engine" tool is sure to do the trick.

The way this tool works is that the student selects from a list of sentences in each dropdown list. Each dropdown represents one line of the poem. As the student works his or her way down the list of dropdown boxes, they will eventually create an interesting poem of their own.

teaching poetry
Poem Engine

This is a tool that is especially useful for special needs students who may not have the ability to actually write their own sentences. By using this tool, even students that can't physically or mentally write down entire sentences can simply select from these pre-existing sentences and create poems of their very own.

At the other extreme is the "Random Line Generator", which does nothing more than creates a completely random sentence. Sometimes the sentence is total gibberish, because the generated words are also random and have no correlation to one another.

teaching poetry
Poem Engine

However, oddly enough, just the one sentence of randomly generated words can be a very powerful catalyst to exciting poetry ideas.

If you're looking for new ideas to help your students explore poetry in the classroom, Language is a virus is an excellent place to start. The many tools that you'll find there will not only inspire your students to write creative poetry, but it may also inspire you to do so as well!

Written August 6, 2012 by Ryan Dube


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