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

Bluebird
Look at this image of a bluebird.

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: Watch clips of clapping games around the world. What do these videos make you think of? Why? 
  2. Before Reading the Poem: Look at this image of a bluebird. What do you notice about the bird? 
  3. Reading the Poem: Now, silently read the poem “Miss Mary Mack Introduces Her Wings” by Tyree Daye. 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. Or, you might opt to watch a video of the poet reading the poem. 
  5. Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed about the poem with a small group of students. Based on this poem and the resources from the beginning of class, how does “Miss Mary Mack [introduce] Her Wings?” How might this compare to the resources from the beginning of class? What do you think of these lines: “I knew freedom / was not the act of flying, but the steady beat of wings”?
  6. Whole-class Discussion: What do you notice about the structure of the poem on the page? What does this make you think of or how does it impact your reading of the poem? How would you describe Miss Mary Mack? 
  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Choose to create a visual illustration of this poem or selected lines from the poem. Or write a poem inspired by this poem. 
  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Refer to the videos that you watched at the beginning of class. Choose one place and read more about childhood games in that country. How does this country’s childhood game compares to your childhood games and the poem? Discuss with your class.

More Context for Teachers

Tyree Daye is the Guest Editor for Poem-a-Day in January 2023. Find an interview with Daye, as well as videos of him reading a selection of his poems.

Poetry Glossary

Repetition: the poetic technique of repeating the same word or phrase multiple times within a poem or work. Read more.

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