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.
Listen to the guitar duet “Aires criollos, no. 2,” performed by José María Aguilar and Enrique Maciel on the Library of Congress’s National Jukebox.
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): Share one object that is personally meaningful to you and explain why.
- Before Reading the Poem (quick write and pair share): Listen to the guitar duet “Aires criollos, no. 2.” (or the song “Jota” from the Smithsonian’s Songs of Spain playlist). As you listen, jot down any associations that come to mind. After listening, share these associations with a partner. (Teachers, at this point it might also be helpful to introduce your students to this short biography of Lorca.)
- Reading the Poem: Read the poem by Federico García Lorca 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.
- 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, what is the tone of the poem? Use evidence. (Teachers, while students are working, consider playing additional tracks from the Songs of Spain playlist.)
- Whole Group Discussion: What might the guitar be a metaphor for? Why might the guitar weep “for distant things”?
- Extension for Grades 7-8: Write a short paragraph about the conflict in this poem. What does the guitar want? What might the guitar represent?
- Extension for Grades 9-12: Think back to the tone that you discussed in your small group. Rewrite the poem using a different tone; perhaps instead of loss and sadness, the guitar is full of joy. Or, learn more about the poet and choose another poem of his to read. Write a compare-and-contrast paragraph about these two poems.
More Context for Teachers: In his essay “Don’t Paraphrase,” Matthew Zapruder writes, “To truly experience poetry, we need to try just to be in the poem for a while. Maybe even having unfamiliarity, resistance, not understanding at times pass through us. Which is hard for me, at least, as it might be for you.” Read more.