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 a short essay that more fully describes the framework upon which Teach This Poem is based.

See our suggestions to help you adapt Teach This Poem for remote or blended learning

Read more about Teach This Poem’s impact. 

Latest Teach This Poem Lesson Plan

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

Sacrifice

Look closely at this photograph from BDCwire.

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: (free-write/draw) Can you think of a time that someone sacrificed for you? Or, what might it mean to sacrifice? 
     
  2. Before Reading the Poem: Look closely at this photograph. What do you notice? What stands out to you? What does this photo make you think? Why? 
     
  3. Reading the Poem: Now, silently read the poem “The Raincoat” by Ada Limón. What do you notice about the poem? Note 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 about 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 the photograph and the writing/drawing you created at the beginning of class relate to the poem? 
     
  6. Whole-class Discussion: How might you describe the relationship between the speaker and the mother? What does this poem say about love and/or sacrifice? If you feel comfortable, who in your life do you make sacrifices for, or who sacrifices for you? How does this compare or contrast with the poem and the photograph? 
     
  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Think back to your writing or the discussion you had. Write a poem that explores sacrifice and/or love. (Teachers, your students might enjoy these other poetry prompts here and here, which are inspired by Limón’s poem.) 
     
  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Learn more about Ada Limón and the National Poetry Laureate role by watching this video. Limón discusses poetry as an experience. Prepare for a poetry roundtable where you will find a poem, (here is a helpful place to start), read the poem, and share your experience with your classmates.

More Context for Teachers

The poet laureate of the United States is appointed annually by the Librarian of Congress. Over the course of the one-year term, which lasts from September to May, the U.S. poet laureate presents a reading and lecture at the Library of Congress and often engages in a community-oriented poetry project with national reach. In July 2022, Ada Limón was named the twenty-fourth U.S. poet laureate. Read more about Limón and find your local poet laureate.

Poetry Glossary

Metaphor: a comparison between essentially unlike things, or the application of a name or description to something to which it is not literally applicable.

Previous Lessons