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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Featured Poem

Related Resource

Two people standing under a perisol in the snow, drawn with ink and watercolor

Look closely at the painting Lovers Walking in the Snow (Crow and Heron) by Suzuki Harunobu.

Classroom Activities

The following activities and questions are designed to help your students use their noticing skills to move through the poem and develop their thinking skills so they understand 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.

  1. Warm-up: (free-write/draw) As the video of a cozy fireplace plays, write or draw what comes to mind when you think about a new year. Share your writing or drawing with the class. 

  2. Before Reading the Poem: Look closely at the painting Lovers Walking in the Snow (Crow and Heron) by Suzuki Harunobu. What stands out to you in this image? Why? Look again. What else do you see? 

  3. Reading the Poem: Silently read the poem “This Morning, This First Poem” by Afaa Michael Weaver. 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 and listen as the poem is read aloud twice, and write down any additional words and phrases that stand out to you. Or, you may opt to listen to the poet read the poem. 

  5. Small Group Discussion: Share what you noticed about the poem with a small group of students. How do the resources from the beginning of class connect to the poem? How might you describe the speaker in the poem? Why? 

  6. Whole Class Discussion: How does the first stanza inform your reading of the poem? So many poets write about the new year and/or new beginnings. What does this poem say about this time? Why?  

  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Revisit the painting from the beginning of class. Write a poem inspired by it or a painting of your choice. Share your writing with the class. 

  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Choose another poem about beginnings. Read your poem. Share your poem and thoughts on the poem with the class. Why might so many poets write about this time of year? What does the new year mean to you? 

More Context for Teachers

Browse more lesson plans about New Year’s featuring “A House Called Tomorrow” by Alberto Ríos, “Burning the Old Year” by Naomi Shihab Nye, and “The New Year” by Carrie Williams Clifford. Read more

Poetry Glossary

Imagery: language in a poem representing a sensory experience, including visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, and gustatory. Read more.