As a data guy, some of my favorite work is when I’m partnering with master educators to gain insights into their practice.  One such master educator that I had the pleasure to collaborate with is Scot Slaby (twitter: @scot_slaby / blog: Noticing Poetry).  Scot is a published poet, high school English teacher, and advocate for raising the bar of poetry pedagogy.

Scot has developed and promoted a pedagogical technique called “Noticing Poetry.”  His technique is in good company, sharing similar strategies to Project Zero’s visible thinking routines, and fortunately for me, Scot had the foresight to collect data from his students… I was salivating to get my hands on his spreadsheets!

What we found was this: a student’s perception of their ability to engage with, and appreciate poetry grew with the “Noticing Poetry” technique to a statistically significant level.

Figure 5 - ExitSurveyResults

While this might not say that students are better poets or better at analyzing poetry, these questions give us insight into student self-efficacy around reading and analyzing poetry and motivation to do more.  Self-efficacy and motivation are two “power-tools” for increasing learning and upon reviewing the results, Scot and I co-authored a paper for the Journal of Inquiry and Action in Education which is available as a free download.

I wouldn’t have guessed that the marriage of data and poetry would work so well, but sometimes the best surprises – that bring back the joy of teaching – happen when you don’t know the endgame.