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: Before class, bring in a picture, photograph, image, or drawing that uses color in a way you find compelling. (Teachers, you may want to invite students to create a gallery walk with their images.) What do you notice about these images? What colors and/or patterns stand out?
Before Reading the Poem: Free-write: What does it mean to run? What does it mean to escape?
Reading the Poem: Read the poem “Color” by Tina Chang 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 discussions from the beginning of class, what might the significance of the title “Color” be? How might this relate or question the images you viewed at the beginning of class?
Whole-class Discussion: What does the speaker want? What might the speaker be searching for? How does the speaker seem to feel about freedom? What might the snow animal represent? Why?
Extension for Grades 7-8: Re-read the last six lines of the poem. What happens to the speaker after “the road disappears”? Write a response about what happens to either the snow animal or the speaker.
Extension for Grades 9-12: Lyric poetry is defined as a short poem, often with songlike qualities, that expresses the speaker’s personal emotions and feelings. Read more lyric poetry in this anthology here, and read more about lyric poetry here. Create a playlist of three to five songs that could be considered lyric poetry. Write a brief explanation for why each song is on your playlist and why each is an example of lyric poetry.
In a 2007 interview in American Poets, Tina Chang asked Li-Young Lee, “Do you feel that you've explored all the obvious places or that you have more to discover?” Read Lee’s answer, and the full interview, here.