Inspired by the success of our popular syndicated series Poem-a-Day, we're pleased to present Teach This Poem, winner of the 2018 Innovations in Reading Prize given by the National Book Foundation.
Produced for K-12 educators, Teach This Poem features one poem a week, accompanied by interdisciplinary primary sources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The series is produced with the assistance of Curriculum Consultant Ansley Moon and was developed with Educator in Residence Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer who continues to provide oversight and guidance. Teach This Poem is available for free via email.
Watch a video about Teach This Poem and teaching with primary sources with Dr. Holzer and our Education Ambassador Richard Blanco.
Read more about Teach This Poem's impact.
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.
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.
Warm-up: Look closely at the image of the Emancipation Proclamation. What do you notice? (Teachers, you may want to read a transcript of the document for clarity.) What does this document declare? Why was that important? What was this document missing?
Before Reading the Poem: Watch the video of the song “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley & The Wailers. What stands out to you most about the song? Why? (Teachers, if you have time, you might want to play the song again.)
Reading the Poem: Read the poem “I Won’t Wash the Dishes Anymore” by Cristiane Sobral, translated by John Keene, 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.
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.
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 media from the beginning of class, how does the poem compare to the song and the image of the Emancipation Proclamation? What do you think about the title and first line?
Whole-class Discussion: How would you describe the speaker in the poem? What does the speaker assert? Why? What does this poem have to say about freedom? Resistance?
Extension for Grades 7-8: Write a poem inspired by some of the themes in this poem, such as reclaiming power, freedom, and resistance, or your own theme. Share your poem with the class.
Extension for Grades 9-12: The poet and writer Audre Lorde said “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation...” Write a personal essay that responds to this quote.
“Poets Ricardo Aleixo and Cristiane Sobral are exponents of the more openly political poetry that portrays the experience of Black Brazilians and asserts its place in the country’s literature.” Read “Another Country: Afro-Brazilian Writing, Past and Present,” an article from Words Without Borders.