Poetry Forge
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About the Forge

These links will allow you to explore further the potential design, use, and adaptation of the Poetry Tools.


The Poetry Forge is an open source archive, designed to allow teachers and student writers to explore, manipulate, create and develop innovative tools for the development of poetry. Read on to learn more about the Forge and how you can contribute.

What is open source?

Teachers are continually borrowing and sharing classroom-tested, effective ideas which engage our students. These ideas are then built upon, modified, and re-tooled to fit the particular needs of each teacher and, ultimately, each student. Open Source works in a similar way, focusing on the manipulation and further development of code. Ultimately, open source is a technical capacity and legal right to adapt, modify and redistribute software.

What is the poetry forge?

The Poetry Forge was designed to trigger the exploration of the use and development of Open Source writing tools within the English classroom. Here, we have included multiple, classroom-tested tools which are meant to be applied and actively used within the English classroom and by student writers. Utilizing both ActionScript (through Flash MX) and NetLogo, we aimed to build tools that would be accessible to all teachers, regardless of the equipment available in the classroom. All that is required is a classroom computer with internet access. Further extensions of the tools include the ability of teachers to manipulate the source code to tailor the tools to their own instructional needs.

More about the development of this website will appear in the December/January issue of Learning and Leading with Technology.

How can I use these tools in my classroom?

One of the exciting features about these tools is their ability to be tailored for multiple uses within the English classroom. This site aims to highlight and offer as many different ideas as is explored by teachers across the internet. Check the discussion area and exemplars for current applications, ideas and innovations.

On the simplest level, teachers can simply download the poetry tools from the website, using either Flash player or NetLogo to launch the generator. The tools can be used by an entire class through the use of an LCD projector or a computer lab. They also work effectively when used as a small group activity or an individual writing tool. Their use and application is really only bounded by the technologies available within a classroom setting.

Key to the instructional success of these tools is the ability of teachers to use each to facilitate students experiences with content. Use of these tools effectively requires that teachers work alongside students to challenge their thinking, extend their discussions, and continually ensure that learning is taking place. This is an active role. The learning experience here is not that the computer generates poetry that students then study. Instead, students collaborate to actively write poetry which requires substantive discussion. The focus must be on the writing and not the computer.

The poems which result are unpredictable. A critical part of the process of the use of these tools occurs when the generated poem will need to be adjusted so that meaning is effectively conveyed. Group or individual evaluation of poems leads to discovery of how words work and where they might belong. It is crucial to note that if anomalies that violate customary English usage are not allowed to happen, students dont have the opportunity to see the consequences. Unexpected consequences resulting from activities like this help students to see why its helpful to know the difference between an adjective and a noun.

Initial tools included on the site challenge student understanding of simple parts of speech, complex phrases and what happens both semantically and syntactically for language to effectively convey meaning. The potential exists for the development of countless poetry tools given the scope and range of skills and curricula. We encourage teachers to submit those tools for the use of the greater community, further extending the potential of this site as an Open Source archive.

How, as a writer, can I use these tools?

The poetry tools are meant to stimulate your thinking about how language works to convey meaning. Some tools will allow you to examine the use of strong, vivid verbs and rich sensory description. Others will challenge you to explore imagery, detail and the structure of great works. A unique feature of this site is that you have the opportunity to share your work and participate in discussions about what these tools do and do not add to your writing. We encourage you to submit your products for consideration either by posting them to the discussion area or sending them to us via the email links found on each page. The poetry will be added to the gallery for consideration and discussion. Furthermore, you have the opportunity to manipulate existing tools or create your own which meet your unique needs as a writer. Again, you are encouraged to submit those tools to the greater community for feedback, sharing and use.

How do these tools connect to state and national standards??

The poetry tools housed within this Open Source archive challenge student skills as readers, writers, thinkers and speakers. The English Language Arts standards developed jointly by the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English encourage literacy as well as experience and experiment with literacy activities.

The English Language Arts standards can be found at http://www.ncte.org/standards.

All of the lesson plans posted to this site list the specific national and state standards which apply to the specific tasks they contain.

Why should my class contribute?

The success of this experiment in the use of Open Source tools within the English classroom is dependant upon the application and real-world use of these tools by practicing English teachers and student writers. Participation in our online community of teachers, writers, scholars and students will allow for the exploration of the potential uses of these tools, the generation of ideas which will lead to the development of new tools, and the extension the professional discussion focusing on how technologies can be used to extend, enrich and enhance student understanding and learning. Submission of writing allows us (the greater community within the Poetry Forge) to consider the impact that the tools have on student writing skills. The sharing of modified and new tools will increase the resources available while also increasing the richness of the discussions held regarding their impact and further potential. Simply put, your voice is essential.

Developed at University of Virginia, Center for Technology and Teacher Education