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On Teaching Poetry

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My students are reading poetry, but I’ve increasingly become aware of the importance of creating a Unit that enables them to critically navigate and interrogate digital-poetic worlds. I recently shared with them commercials (thanks YouTube) of Walt Whitman poems turned advertisements for Levi Strauss and Apple. Some of you may remember the “Go Forth” commercials, but the newest iPad Air commercial, has people, at least in my field, talking the digitalization, life expectancy, and future of poetry.

I am developing a unit in poetry to help develop critical information literacy, the students are responding to each other in classroom and digital classroom settings; they are practicing writing and crafting their own poetry, they are facilitating their own workshops, and designing their own presentations to move the discussion forward on the life and impact of poetry.

Still, to this end, they are emerging readers, and like all emerging readers, sometimes learning to employ infographics is an essential tip in the notetaking process.

I am starting off the unit with William Shakespeare Image and his sonnets. Students navigate this website and choose a few sonnets to gain an understanding of the form our forefathers of poetry are working with. From here students move to William Cullen Bryant, Imageas we read “Thanatopsis” (Meditation on Death). From there, we move to Ralph Waldo Emerson Imageand his poem “The Snow-storm.” By this point, students will notice a change in the form. Then we read the poems of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson — Image and Walt Whitman Image. Image. Next we read Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus” Image. Students will look at the Statue of Liberty and take a virtual tour of its history. Next students will read “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar Image. All along students are keeping a Wiki (wikispaces) of the changes poetry has displayed. There we move to Gertrude Stein’s poem “Susie Asado” Image and Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago” Image. Students will generate a line graph or infographic that shows how poetry has changed or not changed. Finally we will end with William Carlos Williams Imageand Ezra Pound Image. As we move into the modern and contemporary age, students will look to contemporary artists and poets and finally end with a culminating analysis of the movement of poetry.


Author: carlabramowitz

English, Humanities, Foreign Language, & IT Coordinator, Extension Projects, 8th Grade Advisor, Study Support, Reflective-Practice Blogger, School Historian, School Librarian — All of these are labels. I am a teacher/learner at heart. My motto: Explore. Share. Now.

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