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.

Featured Poem

Related Resource

Mt. Etna
Look closely at the image of Mt. Etna here.

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 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.

  1. Warm-up: (free-write) Reflect on this year and look ahead to your hopes and dreams for the new year. 
  2. Before Reading the Poem: Look closely at the image of Mt. Etna here. What do you notice? 
  3. Reading the Poem: Now, read the poem “The New Year” by Carrie Williams Clifford silently. What do you notice about the poem? Annotate for any words or phrases that stand out to you or any questions you might have.
  4. 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 stand out to you. Or, you might opt to listen to the poet read the poem here.
  5. Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed about the poem with a small group of students. How does this speaker feel about the new year? How does this poem compare to the resources from the beginning of class?
  6. Whole-class Discussion: What does this poem say about hope? What are your hopes and dreams for this year? What do you notice about the structure of the poem? (Teachers, this might be a good time to teach your students about sonnets.) 
  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Write two or more lines about your own hopes and dreams for the new year. As a class, work together to create a poem with all of your lines about your hopes and dreams. If possible, display this poem in the classroom or in your school. 
  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Read Terrence Hayes’s poem “American Sonnet for the New Year” here. Discuss with your classmates how Hayes’s poem compares to Williams Clifford’s poem. How does each poem explore hope?
More Context for Teachers

Browse more lesson plans about New Year’s featuring “A House Called Tomorrow” by Alberto Ríos, and “Burning the Old Year” by Naomi Shihab Nye, or find more poems about beginnings appropriate for young students.

Poetry Glossary

Sonnet: a fourteen-line poem traditionally written in iambic pentameter, employing one of several rhyme schemes, and adhering to a tightly structured thematic organization. Read More.