Teach This Poem, though developed with a classroom in mind, can be easily adapted for remote-learning, hybrid-learning models, or in-person classes. Please see our suggestions for how to adapt this lesson for remote or blended learning. We have also noted suggestions when applicable and will continue to add to these suggestions online.

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Classroom Activities

Teach This Poem was developed for in-person classrooms, but it can be easily adapted for remote learning and hybrid learning models. Please see our list of suggestions for how to adapt this lesson for remote or blended learning. 

  1. Warm-Up: (pair-share) What is the best advice you have ever given or received? What made it helpful? 

  2. Before Reading the Poem: Look closely at an image of a circular star trail. What stands out to you in this image? Why? 

  3. Reading the Poem: Silently read the poem “For the Graduation [Bolinas School, June 11, 1971]” by Robert Creeley. What do you notice about the poem? Note any words or phrases that stand out to you or any questions you might have.

  4. 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 stand out to you. 

  5. Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed about the poem with a small group of students. How does this poem compare to what advice you shared at the beginning of class and/or the image? Why? What advice, if any, does the speaker give? 

  6. Whole-class Discussion: Re-read these lines “We live in a circle, / older or younger, / we go round / and around on this earth.” Do you agree or disagree with these lines? Why? How does the title “For the Graduation [Bolinas School, June 11, 1971]” impact your reading of the poem? How might the poem be different without it, or what might be another title? 

  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Read Kurt Vonnegut’s letter to high school students. What is his advice? How does it compare or contrast to Creeley’s advice? Share your ideas in a class discussion.

  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Write a letter to your future self in which you give advice for your own future. Ask a teacher or classmate to hold onto the letter and give it to you at a later day, such as next school year or your senior year. Share with a small group of students. What was it like to write to yourself? Why? 
More Context for Teachers

Read an interview with Sharon Olds about her advice to young writers: “Take your vitamins. Exercise. Just work to love yourself as much as you can—not more than the people around you but not so much less.” 

Poetry Glossary

Enjambment: the continuation of a sentence or clause across one poetic line break. Read more.