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.
Resources: Some “knick knacks” or objects that your students can arrange and rearrange. (Enough for several small groups of students.)
- Warm up: Go around the room quickly and ask your students to make a gesture with one hand that represents spring to them. If a student can’t think of anything, they can say “pass” to wait until after all the other students have contributed.
- Place your students in small groups of no more than four or five. Give each group four or five items, and ask your students to, without talking, arrange these items on a desk. Then ask them to rearrange the items on the desk, again, without talking. All this should be done without knocking anything over or breaking any of the items.
- Project the poem “Spring is like a perhaps hand” by E. E. Cummings so all your students can see it. Ask your students to read it silently, and then write down the words and phrases that jump out at them. What structural oddities do they see? Ask a student to read the poem aloud to the class, while the listening students write down new words and phrases they think are important. Repeat this process with a second student reading aloud.
- Ask your students to get back in their small groups to discuss how the gestures and the rearrangement of the items might relate to their interpretation of the poem.
- Whole-class discussion: How would your students define a “perhaps hand”? What do they think the poem is saying about spring? How do they feel the structural oddities affect the poem? Ask them to provide evidence to back up their assertions.