I used to hate poetry. Seriously. For the first decade of my career, I pretty much ignored it. Too much sap. Too much angst. Too much manufactured depth for the sake of feeling like we’re deep. I knew I was supposed to care about the white chickens and that red wheelbarrow, but I just didn’t. I mean, really, how long was I supposed to sit and nod after reading a poem to prove that I was measurably touched by the work? (Full disclosure – I still don’t love Wm. Carlos Williams. Is an English teacher even allowed to say that?)

But is it fair for a teacher to ignore an entire chunk of curriculum just because of personal preference? Of course not. It ate at my conscience. So several years ago I decided to take on the teaching of poetry as a challenge. Was there a way I could teach poetry without having to fake my enthusiasm? It turns out, there is.

As a former newspaper reporter, I’m a “just-the-facts-ma’am” kind of gal, so I needed to find poems that appealed to that part of my brain – the part that enjoys a good story, likes a little mystery, and can appreciate a string of powerful words. The result is a poetry unit that I look forward to teaching and that my teens actually enjoy. No artsy. No fartsy. No dreaded “I am” poems in sight. (All of these poetry items are in my full unit, though I’ve also linked to individual items below when available.)

Let’s go!

Monday
Open with a five-minute M.U.G. Shot (Mechanics, Usage, Grammar) Monday mini-lecture/bell-ringer.

Present the “How to Read a Poem” Prezi as students complete guided note sheets.

In teams of two, students complete a Poetry Terms matching activity and then we’ll review the answers as a class.

For HW, students should memorize today’s Poetry Terms, as we’ll use these terms for this month’s unit and the terms will appear on the end-of-semester final exam.

Tuesday
Open with a five-minute Lit. Term Tuesday mini-lecture/bell-ringer.

Present Pop Music + Classical Poetry – Day 1, where students compare and contrast the song, “Stereo Hearts,” by Gym Class Heroes, to Robert Burns’ classic poem “A Red, Red Rose.”

For HW, students should read their S.S.R. books.

Wednesday
Open with a ten-minute Words on Wednesday vocabulary mini-lecture/bell-ringer.

Present Pop Music + Classical Poetry – Day 2, where students will compare and contrast The Script’s song, “Breakeven,” with Edmund Spenser’s “Sonnet 30.” (Yesterday’s poems were about the exuberant declaration of one’s love; today’s poems are about the icy devastation of heartbreak.)

For HW, students should read their S.S.R. books.

Thursday
Assign a close reading of Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” and, after a full-class discussion, share a video clip of a professional actor presenting the poem.

Read Edwin Arlington Robinson’s “Miniver Cheevy” and complete short-answer analysis questions.

For HW, students will need to complete the “Miniver Cheevy” questions (whatever they didn’t finish in class) and remember to bring their S.S.R. books to class tomorrow.

Friday
Quarter Trio groups will play “Just Give the Word.”

Students will use the remaining class time to read their S.S.R. books.

For HW, students will be assigned to complete a Common Core-style test prep assignment, which we’ll go over on Monday.

And this should get us back into the post-vacation swing of things. Goodbye, pumpkin spice. Hello, peppermint!

Teach on, everyone!

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Glad you found something to enjoy in the poetry unit!

    Like

  2. Me, too! 😉

    Like

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