These lessons focus on poems about poetry itself:
What is poetry? Why is it important? The poets included in these lessons address these questions, as only they can, from their experience as poets. As you might suspect, Archibald MacLeish, Charles Bukowski, and Marianne Moore have different takes on the subject. We ask your students to learn from what these poets have written, debate the various perspectives, and create their own personal definitions. As a possible culminating activity, we ask students to write an Op Ed piece defending why they think poetry is important—whether they "dislike it," like Marianne Moore, or not!
Aligned with the Common Core Standards, these lessons address the three Literacy areas—Reading, Writing, and Speaking and Listening. They can be used at the beginning of a poetry unit, in a unit on persuasive writing, or in any other way conjured by your own imagination. To make sure you reach diverse learners, feel free to adapt any or all parts of these lessons to your students’ learning styles.
Reading, Key Ideas and Details:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1 and 11-12.1
Reading, Craft and Structure:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4 and 11-12.4
Writing, Text Types and Purposes:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1a,b,c,d,e and 11-12.1a,b,c,d,e
Production and Distribution of Writing:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 and 11-12.5
Speaking and Listening, Comprehension and Collaboration:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d and 11-12.1d
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.3 and 11-12.3
Speaking and Listening, Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 and 11-12.4
Whole Class Warm-up: What is poetry?
Small Group Work:
This reading activity focuses on the poems as a group in order for the students to grapple with the multiple perspectives on poetry presented.
The recorder/reporter takes notes on what the group says and checks back with group members to make sure her notes accurately represent the conversation
After Reading the Poems:
We suggest three activities here. You can choose to do one, a couple, or all three, depending on your goals for your students. Nonetheless, we recommend you conduct the first whole class discussion, and, if you choose to do more, conduct the others in whatever order works best for you.
Whole class discussion:
Goal: To develop a definition of poetry. To develop an understanding of the importance of strong images in writing.
Make sure all students have copies of all three poems. Ask each recorder/reporter to answer the following questions:
Facilitate a discussion that develops a shared set of understandings about each poem and the poems as a group. After reading these poems, how would your class define poetry? How does the use of images contribute to the points the poets want to make? What makes an image strong? How might the students use strong images in their own writing?
Goal: To synthesize multiple perspectives. To develop skills of argumentation, speaking and listening.
Goal: To understand the structure of an OpEd piece. To write a persuasive essay on the importance of poetry.
Ask your students to list words in the poems they do not understand. These might include: