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


Ella Fitzgerald's My Funny Valentine

Listen to Ella Fitzgerald’s “My Funny Valentine.”

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: (think, pair-share) Join with a partner and discuss why people send valentines. 

  2. Before Reading the Poem: Listen to Ella Fitzgerald’s “My Funny Valentine.” As you listen, what do you notice? What words or phrases stand out to you? 

  3. Reading the Poem: Read the poem “A Valentine” by Priscilla Jane Thompson 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 may opt to listen to audio of the poem. 

  5. Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed in the poem with a small group of students. Based on the details you just shared with your small group and your activities from the beginning of class, what is the relationship between the speaker and the beloved? How do you know? 

  6. Whole-class Discussion: What does the poem say about love? What might the following lines mean? “Fathom her heart, that seems to me, cold, / Trouble her bosom, as mine, / Let it be mutual, this that I crave, / Her ‘yes’ for a valentine.” 

  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Write a response from the beloved to the speaker. What needs to be said? Or, write your own Valentine’s Day-inspired poem. Read more love poems.

  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Read through additional love poems. With your class, create an anthology of love poems. Include at least three poems. Then, be prepared to share why you added each poem. 

More Context for Teachers

"Poets, whose power is in part to translate great emotions into memorable language, have always written about love," said Jennifer Benka, executive director of the Academy. "And on the occasion dedicated to celebrating the bonds between us, there's not a better gift than a love poem." Find more poems to share for Valentine’s Day.

Poetry Glossary

This week’s poetic term is saudade, a Portuguese term expressing nostalgia or yearning for something that might have been. Read more.