Teach This Poem is a weekly series featuring a poem from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help K-12 teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom.
Ask your students to read an excerpt from the Smithsonian Institution article “‘Hobbits’ on Flores, Indonesia” that is appropriate for their level of comprehension. Ask them to write down any terms and information they do not understand and to share this information with a partner. Together they should research the information they need to answer their questions.
Ask your students to get in small groups to discuss what they learned from the nonfiction account of the remains of the small people found on Flores Island. What information was new to them? (For an in-depth study of this article, consider co-teaching this lesson with a science colleague. You may want to discuss the following: On what basis do scientists change their minds?)
Project the poem by Tracy K. Smith in front of the class, noting that she quotes an article mentioned on the Smithsonian website. Ask your students to read the poem silently and write down the words, phrases, and structural aspects that jump out at them. Ask one student to read the poem aloud while the listening students write down new words, phrases, and structural aspects that they notice. Repeat this process with a second student reading aloud.
Ask your students to get in small groups to discuss these questions: Who is the speaker in the poem? What evidence in the poem (as well as what they have previously discussed and written in this lesson) supports this?
Whole-class discussion: Using evidence from what they have discussed and written, what do your students think the speaker in the poem is trying to tell them? How does the information differ from the kind of information they get from the nonfiction article?