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 turn and talk with a partner about the details they see. How do these details come together as a whole? How does this whole make them feel?
Project the poem by Walt Whitman 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. Ask two students to read the poem aloud—one reading the first stanza followed by the next student reading the second stanza. Ask the listening students to write down anything new they hear. Ask two additional students to read the poem aloud while the listening students continue to write down what jumps out at them.
Ask your students to gather in small groups to share what they noticed about the poem. What do they think the speaker in the poem is saying about what poems do and how they make him feel?
Whole-class discussion: How does looking at the image of the birth of stars prepare your students to think about how the poem’s speaker feels about poetry? How do your students feel about poetry? What images can they think of to evoke this feeling?
Ask your students to use images that evoke the way they feel about poetry to write about (and perhaps, illustrate) what they think poems accomplish.