• Walt Whitman's Notebooks and Poetry: the Sweep of the Universe

    Walt Whitman.

    Clues to Walt Whitman's effort to create a new and distinctly American form of verse may be found in his Notebooks, now available online from the American Memory Collection. In an entry to be examined in this lesson, Whitman indicated that he wanted his poetry to explore important ideas of a universal scope (as in the European tradition), but in authentic American situations and settings using specific details with direct appeal to the senses.

  • All Together Now: Collaborations in Poetry Writing

    Pen and paper

    When children hear, write and recite poetry, they understand more deeply the qualities of verse — the importance of sound, compactness, internal integrity, imagination, and line. Working collaboratively on poetry provides a safe structure for student creativity.

  • "A Raisin in the Sun": The Quest for the American Dream

    Harlem street scene in the 1950s

    The play A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, is used as a focal point for discussion of "The American Dream" as students explore how the social, educational, economical and political climate of the 1950s affected African Americans' quest for the good life in the suburbs.

  • Lesson 3: Emulating Emily Dickinson: Poetry Writing

    Emily Dickinson

    In this lesson, students closely examine Dickinson’s poem “There’s a certain slant of light” in order to understand her craft. Students explore different components of Dickinson’s poetry and then practice their own critical and poetry writing skills in an emulation exercise. Finally, in the spirit of Dickinson’s correspondences, students will exchange their poems and offer informed critiques of each others’ work.

  • Lesson 2: Responding to Emily Dickinson: Poetic Analysis

    In this lesson, students will explore Dickinson’s poem “Safe in their Alabaster Chambers” both as it was published as well as how it developed through Dickinson’s correspondence with her sister-in-law Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson.

  • Lesson 1: In Emily Dickinson's Own Words: Letters and Poems

    Emily Dickinson

    Reading Emily Dickinson’s letters alongside her poems helps students to better appreciate a remarkable voice in American literature, grasp how Dickinson perceived herself and her poetry, and—perhaps most relevant to their own endeavors—consider the ways in which a writer constructs a “supposed person.”

  • The Olympic Medal: It's All Greek to Us!

    Myron's Discobolus

    Students are bound to be curious to know what all that Greek writing means. This lesson plan uses an EDSITEment created Greek alphabet animationto help students "decode" the inscription on the Olympic medal. Because the Olympic medal is both a familiar and mysterious object for students, it presents an ideal prompt to build basic literacy in the Greek alphabet. Thus, this lesson uses the Athens 2004 medal inscription as an elementary "text" to help students practice reading Greek and to help reinforce the link between ancient Greek culture and the Olympic games.

  • A Story of Epic Proportions: What makes a Poem an Epic?

    Priam, King of Troy

    Some of the most well known, and most important, works of literature in the world are examples of epic poetry. This lesson will introduce students to the epic poem form and to its roots in oral tradition.

  • Say Hi to Haibun Fun

    Japanese musician, seated, playing shakuhachi flute

    In a typical high school language arts or social studies curriculum, students are asked to record events of their lives along with emotional responses and reflections. In contrast, the Japanese art of haibun, developed in Japan in the late 17th century by Matsuo Munefusa (Basho), focuses on objective reporting of the everyday moment and focusing the insights of that moment into a theme developed in a concluding poem. In this lesson students will be introduced to the Japanese writing form, the haibun.

  • Lessons of the Indian Epics: The Ramayana: Showing your Dharma

    The Citadel of Lanka, a detail from "Hanuman Visists Sita in Lanka,"

    The story of the Ramayana has been passed from generation to generation by numerous methods and media. Initially it was passed on orally as an epic poem that was sung to audiences by a bard, as it continues to be today.