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.

 

Featured Poem

Surface Anatomy of the Heart

 Surface Anatomy of the Heart

This image is in the public domain.

Classroom Activities

  1. Play the audio recording of Sarah Vaughan singing “My Funny Valentine” as your students enter the room (or as you are transitioning between activities). Ask your students to write down what they hear in the song and to think about how the word heart relates to Valentine’s Day. Tell them you will return to this later in the lesson.
  2. Show your students the image of a human heart encased in ribs. Ask them to look at the image carefully and write down the shapes, colors, and other details they notice. (To explore more about the anatomy of the human heart, consider co-teaching this lesson with a science colleague.)
  3. Ask your students to gather in small groups to share what they noticed in the image of the heart. Do they see any relation between this image and the song “My Funny Valentine”? Why or why not?
  4. Project the poem “Heart to Heart” in front of the class. Ask your students to read it silently and to write down the words and phrases that jump out at them. Then ask them to listen twice to the audio recording of Rita Dove reading her poem and to continue adding words and phrases to their lists. What do they learn about the poem by listening to Dove’s voice? Ask your students to turn and talk with a partner about the words and phrases they noticed in the poem.
  5. Whole-class discussion: How does the visual image of the heart relate to the poem “Heart to Heart”? Why is this comparison important to the meaning of the poem? How does hearing a voice enhance your experience of a song or poem?