Poetry Rocks in Google Docs!

Looking for a quick and meaningful way to help your students write poetry? Google Docs can help, with the integration of two useful add-ons:
The first step of the process involves students brainstorming and organizing ideas for their poems. Here's where MindMeister comes into play. With this fantastic add-on, students can easily convert bulleted lists into mind maps (check out our review and tutorial for further information on MindMeister).

As you can see in the images above, I've used the MindMeister add-on to brainstorm and organize ideas about a topic that's a significant part of my life... pizza. At this point, Rhyme Finder can be used to facilitate and support the creation of rhyming verse. I suggest two different ways to begin writing sentences/phrases that rhyme:

Write the first sentence of a matching pair. Highlight the last word in the sentence. Activate the Rhyme Finder add-on. It will then suggest all possible rhyming words in a small window on the right-hand side of the page. Students can then select a word and write a sentence that logically follows the preceding one.

Students select one word from their mind map. Students then highlight this word and activate the Rhyme Finder add-on. From the available rhyming words, students choose an appropriate word creating a rhyming pair. At this point, students can write sentences that each end with one word from from the rhyming pair. Order doesn't matter here as it may with method 1. For that reason, with this method, students are not as restricted with writing the second sentence as there is more flexibility. 

Here's a brief glimpse of these two gDoc add-ons in action:

Often, finding logical and meaningful rhyming pairs presents a significant hurdle for students to overcome when writing poetry or song lyrics. MindMeister allows students to view their ideas in a neat and organized fashion. Rhyme Finder provides an intuitive way for students to expand upon these ideas in a rhyming format. Together, they create an engaging and effective way for students to write in rhymes. And teachers too…

Of all the foods that I’ve ever eaten,
There’s only one that can’t be beaten.
Pizza any time of day,
At my house or the buffet.
Olives, onions, and tomatoes,
I’d even eat it with potatoes!
The crust is crunchy, sometimes chewy,
The cheese is always hot and gooey.
Pizza Pizza, Pizzaville,
Seafood pizza topped with krill.
Pizza slices - great for math,
I’d like to take a pizza bath!

(stick to my day job, right?)

But remember, much like a traditional thesaurus, these tools can be misused. Students may potentially use words in their writing simply because they provide a needed rhyme and were suggested by Rhyme Finder. A valuable extension to any activity involving these add-ons would be to have students reflect upon their process and finished product. Have them make their thinking visible by commenting on each rhyming pair (using the built-in comment tool in gDocs), and explain what each word means, and why they are appropriate for the poem or song (more on this strategy can be found here: Using Comments in Google Docs to Make Thinking Visible).

Give it a try - it's fun! And when you're done, let your students try it too. We'd love to hear your success stories, suggestions or feedback @inquireinspire #gdocpoetry

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