Produced for K-12 educators, Teach This Poem features one poem a week from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The series is written by our Educator in Residence, Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, and is available for free via email.
- The day before you teach this lesson, ask your students to find a favorite poem to bring into class. (This can be done either in class or as homework.)
- Have your students get into small groups and share their poems with each other. Ask them to discuss what they like about their poems, and what makes their choice a poem and not a paragraph.
- Project “Ars Poetica” by Archibald MacLeish so your students can read it. Ask them to read it silently and write down all the words, phrases, and images that jump out at them.
- Ask one student to read the first stanza of the poem aloud, a second student the second stanza, and a third student the third stanza. Repeat this process with three different students. Have the listening students write down additional words, phrases, and images that jump out at them as they hear the stanzas read.
- Ask your students to share with their group what they have written.
- Hold a whole-class discussion: What does Archibald MacLeish mean when he says, “A poem should not mean / But be.”? What evidence do they have for what they noticed in the poem to support their answers?