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 resources 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.
Teach This Poem is a weekly series featuring a poem from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help K-12 teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom.
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 (quick write): As you enter the room, take a notecard. On the notecard, anonymously write down a stereotype people might have about you, or write about a time that you have been misjudged. (Teachers, you may choose to share a stereotype that people might have about you or share about a time that you were misjudged.)
Before Reading the Poem: (Teachers, collect these notecards and place them in a small jar. You may want to note that while these are anonymous, they will be shared. Students who do not wish to share may opt out of adding their notecard.) Select three to four notecards from the jar. Read them aloud. With a partner or your tablemates, share what common threads you noticed in these examples.
Reading the Poem: Read the poem “Poem Full of Worry Ending with My Birth” by Tarfia Faizullah 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: Listen as the poem is read aloud twice, first by a student and then by the poet, and write down any additional words and phrases that stand out to you. Call back the lines that you like by saying these lines aloud with your partner or tablemates.
Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed in the poem with your partner and another pair of students. What connections can you make between the poem and some of the stories shared with the class?
Whole-class Discussion: How is the speaker “an immediate symbol / of a war”? Why might the poem end with a meteor?
Extension for Grades 7-8: Think back to what you wrote at the beginning of class. Write your own poem full of worry, stereotyping, or misjudgment. Read your poem for your class.
Extension for Grades 9-12: Watch all or part of Chimanda Ngozi Adiche’s TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story.” Incorporating language from the poem, choose to write either an essay that explains the dangers of a single story or a memoir about a time that someone held a single story about you.