When creating my five-day poetry lesson plans, I wanted to make sure that I provided something meaningful for my students while not overwhelming them with the complexities on poetry. Poetry should be something enjoyable for students and there are so many poems out there to choose from, but some are just pushed onto students because they always have been. I wanted to find poems that were more modern. It’s not that I don’t think students should be exposed to the classic poems, but I also think it’s better to start students on milk before forcing solid foods down their throats.
In my search I discovered the young poet Amanda Gorman, who wrote and recited the 2021, inaugural poem for President Biden, had recently written another poem called, New Year’s Day Lyrics. Both poems thread the theme of unity with metaphors and symbolism. In the world our students are experiencing I wanted to teach them these poems to encourage them. I also wanted to encourage the students who love to write by showing them that they don’t have to wait till they are old to succeed. Amanda Gorman is the youngest poet to speak at a Presidential inauguration and her words will forever be etched in history. She not only spoke at a historic event she spoke about her feelings concerning the Capitol riot on January 6th, 2021. When discussing her inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, she said it was her way of dealing with the emotions from watching American democracy being attacked by its own citizens. I thought this would be a great way to teach students that they can use writing to express their emotions and not just for assignments at school.
My goal in teaching English is to help cultivate the writers and show those who don’t like reading or writing that it’s important no matter what career field they choose. I decided to create an assignment that would first have students write in the easiest way they know how, in a journalist style. For the first day’s assignment I asked students to write a journal entry on an event in their lives that left a mark on them, good or bad. That first day I’ll highlight the use of repetition in poetry because it’s a technique seen in Gorman’s poem A Hill We Climb. I’ll also have students highlight the examples of symbolism and metaphor in the inaugural poem. The next day I’ll show students Gorman’s Instagram video of her reciting her poem New Year’s Day Lyrics. I want them to see that poetry is something for the modern age and not just found in old dusty books. They’ll then highlight the symbolism and metaphors found in this poem before creating their own. Their summative assignment for this lesson unit will be to take the journal entry they wrote and turn it into a poem. They can choose to do a one of three poems, free style, acrostic, or diamanté. I have them choosing this because I want this poem to be their own and not just another assignment.
When teaching the students how to do these poems I had each one written on the board with an example under free-verse. The reason I did not put an example under the other two is because I wanted to make them in real time with the students assistance. Once I showed the students how they were made they started collaborating and participating. I do wish I had spent more days on this part, but only because a few students were absent and we ended up using days to review.
Their final projects were overall adequate. I did have students who exceeded my expectations and showed a thorough knowledge of the type of poem they chose to write.
Looking back I’d spend more days analyzing Amanda Gorman’s poems and breaking them down stanza by stanza (if necessary) so they students could have a better grasp of what she was saying and how she used figurative language to do so. However, I am happy with how my unit turned out, both on paper and in the real life classroom.