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 guidance of our Educator in Residence, Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, and 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: Write down 3-5 things you like about yourself.
Before Reading the Poem: What is a self-portrait? Why do artists create self portraits? Use your phone or device and sketch yourself. If you feel comfortable, share with a partner.
Reading the Poem: Read the poem “This Body II” by Renée Watson 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. Or, you may opt to watch the video of the poet reading the poem.
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, in what ways is this poem a self portrait?
Whole-class Discussion: What does this poem have to say about legacy and/or kinship? In what ways is this poem a praise poem? How does this poem compare to your description of yourself at the beginning of class and/or your self-portrait? What more could you have praised or honored about yourself?
Renée Watson was a judge for the 2021 National Poetry Month Poster Contest. The Academy of American Poets will distribute 100,000+ free copies of the 2021 poster featuring twelfth grader Bao Lu’s artwork to libraries, schools, bookstores, homes, and community centers nationwide to help mark the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of National Poetry Month this April. Sign up for your free copy of the poster.