Teach This Poem is a weekly series featuring a poem from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help K-12 teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom.


Featured Poem

Untitled by Sperry Andrews

Weir Farm

Credit: National Parks Service.

Classroom Activities
  1. Project the image of Sperry Andrews’s painting of Weir Farm at the front of the room. Ask your students to spend several minutes looking at it and writing down the details they see, e.g. colors, types of brush strokes. Using these details as evidence, what do they think these colors and brush strokes represent? Why? Ask them to turn and talk with a partner about what they noticed and what they think. (To learn more about Weir Farm, which was the homestead of the painter Julian Alden Weir, visit the National Park Service’s page about its history.)
  2. Ask your students to gather in small groups to discuss if this painting looks like something in real life. How is it the same? How is it different? Ask someone in each group to take notes from this discussion, so they can use this information later in this lesson.
  3. Project Marilyn Nelson’s poem in front of the class. Ask your students to read it silently and write down the words, phrases, and structures that jump out at them. Ask one student to read the poem aloud to the rest of the class. Ask the listening students to write down anything new that jumps out at them when they hear the poem read. Repeat this process with a second student reading the poem aloud.
  4. Back in their small groups, your students should share the words, phrases, and structures they noticed in the poem. Based on what they noticed, what do they think the speaker in the poem is saying about the relationship between paintings of Weir Farm and the farm itself?
  5. Whole-class discussion: What do your students think the speaker might mean when she says, “Any place you care for can hold an easel. / Everything around you is beautiful plein air.” What is “plein air”?