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.

Featured Poem

Classroom Activities

  1. Whip-around:  Go around the room and ask your students to describe their reaction (using appropriate language) to the 2016 Presidential election in no more than two or three words.
  2.  Ask your students to read the entry in the online Encyclopedia Britannica for the Presidential Election of 1884. Make sure they write down the most important and interesting things that jump out at them as they read. (Have them keep a running list of vocabulary words they don’t know while they are reading.)
  3. Ask your students to get in small groups and discuss what they learned from their reading. Have them work together to figure out the meaning of the vocabulary words. In addition, have them help one another frame questions about this election.
  4. Project Walt Whitman’s poem “Election Day, November, 1884” in front of the class. Ask one student to read the poem out loud to the class as all the students read along and write down what jumps out at them. Ask another student to read the poem out loud, while the listeners follow the same procedure, adding new words and phrases to their lists.
  5. Hold a whole-class discussion: What jumped out at your students from the poem? Ask your students what they think Whitman was saying about the Presidential election of 1884; remind them to use the words and phrases in their lists as evidence for their statements. How was the election of 1884 similar to, or different from, the election of 2016?
  6. Ask your students to write a paragraph or poem that includes their reaction to, and questions about, the 2016 Presidential election.