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Posts tagged ‘poetry’

Let’s be honest. None of us are Amanda Gorman. But your students should be.

Let’s be honest.

Very few of us are poets. Very few of us probably even read a lot of poetry.

That might change after this morning’s recitation by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration. Her poem titled “The Hill We Climb” resonated with a variety of themes from American history.

And hope. Read more

Twitter haiku: 17 syllables and 140 characters through US history

You gotta love the Twitter. Seriously. Even you choose to not use it at a personal level, there’s just too much stuff you and students can do with it.

Historical re-creations. Tweets as historical characters. Exit card activities. Assign homework. Virtual study rooms. Question and answer sessions with students. Connect with parents. With other teachers. With other classrooms. Provide study tips. Ask questions. Share ideas. Real time chats. Follow breaking news and current events.

And now?

History as haiku. Read more

NCSS 2010 Session Two – Teaching History with the Arts

(This is basically a live blog of the the morning’s second session, so please excuse grammar and spelling!)

Several weeks ago, I shared some info about the Picturing America site. Some great stuff for integrating the humanities into social studies instruction.

In the second session of the conference, Stephen LaMorte and Robbin Dehollander from Rochester, NY spent their time talking about how they use the Picturing America site with middle schools kids. They suggest that using the arts in social studies:

  • helps engage kids intellectually and emotionally
  • allows students to express themselves in a variety of ways
  • is project based
  • is a natural fit for Differeniated Instruction
  • is literacy based

They started their example by sharing the essential question:

How did the struggle for civil rights shape the culture of the time?

They used the Romare Bearden painting The Dove while playing some of Bearden’s music.

They used the very effective technique of breaking the image up in four parts while asking kids to “see” details in the image. (I’ve detailed this before.) Then show the entire image and ask the kids:

How does this image connect to your family, friends, pets, community, neighborhood?

Kids then read the poem:

Your World

Your world is as big as you make it.
I know, for I used to abide
In the narrowest nest in a corner,
My wings pressing clsoe to my side.

But I sighted the distant horizon
Where the skyline encircled the sea
AndI throbbed with a burning desire
To travel this immensity.

I battered the cordons around me
And cradled my wings on the breeze,
Then soared to the uttermost reaches
With rapture, with power, with ease!

Georgia Douglas Johnson (1880-1966)

Then kids are asked to look at another photo using the same “quartering” technique:

This image of the Selma Civil RIghts marchers is also on the Picturing America site. It’s also followed with a poem.


Locked arm in arm they cross the way
The black boy and the white,
The golden splendor of the day
The sable pride of night.

From lowered blinds the dark folk stare
And here the fair folk talk,
Indignant that these two should dare
In unison to walk.

Oblivious to look and word
They pass, and see no wonder
That lightning brilliant as a sword
Should blaze the path of thunder.

Countee Cullen (1903 – 1946)

In groups, kids then discuss how are the two images are alike and different. And finally,  kids write their own poetry. They didn’t mention it but  I would use the I Am poem strategy.

Overall, a nice way of using some pretty powerful stuff to help kids think about the civil rights movement. Find more lesson plans and goodies on the EDSITEment site.

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George and Abe, presidents, leaders and poets

Okay . . . simple exercise.

Make a list of words that come to mind when you think of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Ready? Go.

Mmm . . .

  • First in the hearts of his countrymen
  • President
  • General
  • Great Emancipator
  • Leader
  • Ford’s Theater
  • Wooden teeth

And now, one I would never have added:

  • Poetgeorge's poem

I was over at the PBS site and ran across a post that mentions the poetic abilities of George and Abe. Had no idea.

Lord Thomas Fairfax sent 17 year-old George Washington west of the Blue Ridge Mountains on a 1749 surveying trip. Apparently George sorely missed a certain young lady during his trip and spent some time penning love poems to Frances Alexander in his journal:

From your bright sparkling Eyes, I was undone;
Rays, you have, more transparent than the sun,
Amidst its glory in the rising Day,
None can you equal in your bright array;
Constant in your calm and unspotted Mind;
Equal to all, but will to none Prove kind,
So knowing, seldom one so Young, you’l Find
Ah! woe’s me that I should Love and conceal,
Long have I wish’d, but never dare reveal,
Even though severely Loves Pains I feel;
Xerxes that great, was’t free from Cupids Dart,
And all the greatest Heroes, felt the smart.

Did ya notice the unfinished acrostic? Wonder if Martha ever got one.

Abe’s foray into poetry was a bit different.

In September 1858, Lincoln was in Winchester, Illinois in the middle of his Senate campaign against Stephen A. Douglas. A young girl named Rosa Haggard, the daughter of Lincoln’s innkeeper, asked him for an autograph. His response:

To Rosa–
You are young, and I am older;
You are hopeful, I am not–
Enjoy life, ere it grow colder–
Pluck the roses ere they rot.

Teach your beau to heed the lay–
That sunshine soon is lost in shade–
That now’s as good as any day–
To take thee, Rosa, ere she fade.

Go ahead, admit it. You’re looking at the two giants of American history a bit differently now, aren’t you?

They were poets and you didn’t even know it.