The following activities and questions are designed to help your students use their noticing skills to move through the poem and develop their thinking about its meaning with confidence, using what they’ve noticed as evidence for their interpretations. Read more about the framework upon which these activities are based.
- Warm Up (whip around): What is your favorite or least favorite thing about fall? Why?
- Before Reading the Poem (pairs): Listen to the song “Autumn in New York” by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong twice. During your first listen, listen closely to the song and notice what images come to mind. During your second listen, work with your partner to make a list of words or phrases that jump out to you.
- Reading the Poem: Read the poem “Fall Leaves Fall” by Emily Brontë silently. Notice the words and phrases that jump out at you, then think about what you noticed as you annotate the poem.
- Listening to the Poem (enlist two volunteers to read the poem aloud): Listen as the poem is read aloud twice, and write down any additional words and phrases that jump out at you. Call back the lines that you like by saying these lines aloud with your group.
- Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed in the poem with your partner and another pair of students. Based on the details you just shared, how does this poem relate to song that you listened to at the beginning of class? What do you notice about the poem’s structure? What images can you see vividly when reading the poem?
- Whole-class Discussion: How does the narrator in the poem feel about fall? How do you know? (Teachers, you may wish to assign students/pairs lines from the poem. In their pairs, have them argue why their assigned line is the most important and how the entire poem would be different without this line.)
- Extension for Grades 7-8: Write a poem or song about your favorite or least favorite season. You must include at least two strong examples of imagery.
- Extension for Grades 9-12: Read “Autumn Movement” by Carl Sandburg. Write a short essay that compares Sandburg’s poem to Brontë’s. Or, rewrite “Fall Leaves Fall” but change the tone to include a speaker that loves fall and does not want winter to arrive.
More Context for Teachers
In the essay “Making a Space for Aphorism: Exploring the Intersection between Aphorism and Poetry,” Sharon Dolin writes, “Aphorisms have traditionally signaled a general truth through abstraction.... Yet the trick of the aphorism may also be, and in this sense it is not unlike a lyric poem, to evoke the general through a particular, even a particular point of view.” Read more.