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

Classroom Activities

Resource: Read the Encyclopaedia Britannica entry for “Phoenix: Mythological Bird.”

  1. Warm-up: Go around the room quickly asking your students any associations they have with the word phoenix. If they do not have any, it’s fine to let them pass and not come back to them.
  2. Ask your students to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica entry for “Phoenix: Mythological Bird” and write down the details they think are important in the story. Ask them to turn and talk with a partner about what they have learned. What do they think might be the message of this myth?
  3. Ask your students to think about if this story has any meaning for them in their own lives, or in the lives of people they know. (They can either share this writing with their partner or keep it private, depending on what you think is more appropriate for your students.)
  4. Project the poem “Instructions on Not Giving Up” in front of the class. Ask your students to read it silently and write down the words and phrases in the poem that jump out at them. Ask one student to read the poem aloud to the class while the listeners write down any new items they hear. Repeat this process with another student reading the poem aloud.
  5. Assemble your students in small groups. Ask them to share what they noticed about the words and phrases in the poem. Why do they think the speaker in the poem is focusing on the leafing out of trees? What in the poem makes them think this is the case?
  6. Whole-class discussion: What do your students think might be the relationship between the Phoenix myth and the poem “Instructions on Not Giving Up”? How are they similar? How are they different? If your students were to write a poem about not giving up, what images might they use?