• Lesson 2: Thirteen Ways of Reading a Modernist Poem

    Planes, (subway) trains, automobiles and World War I

    This lesson prompts students to think about a poem’s speaker within the larger context of modernist poetry. First, students will review the role of the speaker in two poems of the Romanticism period before focusing on the differences in Wallace Stevens’ modernist “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.

  • Lesson 3: Navigating Modernism with J. Alfred Prufrock

    Planes, (subway) trains, automobiles and World War I

    In this lesson, students will explore the role of the individual in the modern world by closely reading and analyzing T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

  • Lesson 1: Understanding the Context of Modernist Poetry

    Planes, (subway) trains, automobiles and World War I

    Understanding the context of literary modernism (specifically, modernist poetry) is important for students before they analyze modernist texts themselves. To that end, this lesson enables students to explore and consider the forces that prompted such a “fundamental change” in human nature.

  • Browning's "My Last Duchess" and Dramatic Monologue

    Robert Browning (1812–1889).

    Reading Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess,” students will explore the use of dramatic monologue as a poetic form, where the speaker often reveals far more than intended.

  • Robert Frost's "Mending Wall": A Marriage of Poetic Form and Content

    Robert Frost

    Studying Robert Frost's "Mending Wall," students explore the intricate relationship between a poem's form and its content.

  • Preparing for Poetry: A Reader's First Steps

    William Shakespeare

    Students are often gleeful to discover that their reading homework involves only a few short poems. Yet the attentive student realizes that carefully reading a poem involves as much work as reading a short story, article, or passage from a novel. This lesson teaches students how to read a poem so that they are prepared, rather than simply present, for class discussion.

  • "World enough, and time"—Andrew Marvell's Coy Mistress

    Andrew Marvell (1621–1678), one of 17th-Century Britain's most illustrious  poets.

    Students explore the metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell's use of tone, imagery, and poetic form as he attempts to seduce his “Coy Mistress.”

  • Analyzing Poetic Devices: Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" and Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz"

    Theodore Roethke and Robert Hayden.

    Students examine the relationship of poetic form and content, shaped by alliteration, consonance, repetition, and rhythm, in two poems about fatherhood: Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" and Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz."

  • The Impact of a Poem's Line Breaks: Enjambment and Gwendolyn Brooks' "We Real Cool"

    Gwendolyn Brooks.

    Students will learn about the impact of enjambment in Gwendolyn Brooks' short but far-reaching poem "We Real Cool." One element of this lesson plan that is bound to draw students in is this compelling video of working-class Bostonian John Ulrich reciting the poem (scroll down that web page to and click on the John Ulrich thumbnail).

  • Carl Sandburg's "Chicago": Bringing a Great City Alive

    Carl Sandburg.

    In this lesson students examine primary documents including photographs, film, maps, and essays to learn about Chicago at the turn of the 20th century and make predictions about Carl Sandburg's famous poem. After examining the poem's use of personification and apostrophe, students write their own pieces about beloved places with Sandburg's poem as a model.