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

winter scene

Look closely at this photo, titled “What sorcery within a night has made a city street into a fairy glade?” from the Library of Congress.

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): How do you feel about winter? Why? Share your thoughts with a partner. 
  2. Before Reading the Poem: Look closely at the image of this photo. What do you notice in the image? Look again. What else do you see? 
  3. Reading the Poem: Now, read the poem “To Winter” by Claude McKay 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. 
  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 the resources from the beginning of class, how does this speaker feel about winter? How do you feel about winter? 
  6. Whole-class Discussion: Is this poem an ode? Why or why not? How does the tone of the poem change towards the end of the poem? How might you describe the speaker?  
  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Create your own poem and illustration for winter. What is it you might want to say before the end of the year? How can you depict that in the poem? 
  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Choose a poem from this list of winter poems to read and recite. How can you bring life to your reading? Practice reciting your poem from memory. Recite the poem for your classmates. After, discuss how it felt to memorize and recite a poem.

More Context for Teachers

“I plucked my soul out of its secret place, / And held it to the mirror of my eye, / To see it like a star against the sky… ” Find another Teach This Poem lesson featuring “I Know My Soul” by Claude McKay.

Poetry Glossary

This week’s poetic term is ode, a formal address to an event, a person, or a thing not present. Read more.