Produced for K-12 educators, Teach This Poem features one poem a week from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The series is written by our Educator in Residence, Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, and is available for free via email.

Featured Poem

Old-Growth Clear-cutting in Klanawa Valley

From "B.C. municipalities support Vancouver Island push to save old-growth forests," Vancouver Sun. Photo credit: TJ Watt/Ancient Forest Alliance.

Classroom Activities
  1. When the trees in your area are in full leaf, ask your students to find a tree that “speaks” to them.  Ask them to describe, in writing, the details of that tree and why they are attracted to it. They should pay particular attention to the tree's leaves, and they may even want to draw a picture of a leaf they particularly like.
  2. Show your students the image of old growth clear-cutting, but do not tell them the title. Ask them to write down the details of what they see. How does this image make them feel?
  3. If your students do not know, tell them what clear-cutting is. In small groups, ask them to discuss how they feel about clear-cutting after seeing the image.
  4. Project the poem by Arthur Sze. Ask your students to write down what jumps out at them in the poem. Ask one student to read the poem aloud, while the listening students add details to their writing from what they hear. Repeat this process with another student reading aloud.
  5. Place your students in small groups to research the types of trees mentioned in the poem.
  6. Whole-class discussion: What do they think Arthur Sze might be saying about how different leaves and trees make him feel? What does it mean to “be on the edge of a new leaf”? Have your students ever felt that way?

Other ideas for teaching this poem can be found in a lesson plan specifically designed for the National Poetry Month poster.