Monday, November 20, 2023

Gotta Catch Them All (Emily Dickinson Poems, of Course!)


As we go toward the end of the year, we may find ourselves with some awkward pacing.  You can't always test on the last day (and that provides some headaches when students are absent and now have to wait until January to be tested on material they have forgotten) and you don't want to start something new just to have a two week interlude.

Here's a lesson that can be in about half a period.  It's fun and it is content relevant.

If I were teaching American Lit, I would just do this when I get to Emily Dickinson.  But as a British Lit teacher and an AP Lit teacher, we still talk about meter, iambic pentameter, and the effect these have on the poetry.  This especially works well after trying to teach a Shakespeare play if you focused any on how iambic pentameter works.

This presentation has students read three Emily Dickinson poems.  Feel free to go into whatever detail about Emily Dickinson's life you would like to add (she had a killer cake recipe and if done her way is coated with brandy and lasts quite a long time!).  Have the kids experience the poetry and get their thoughts.  They are short and different from what many kids are used to, so can be quite fun for discussions.

Then hit them with the common meter lesson.  This will seem boring until they get to the next slide - 

 I've taught this to standard and inclusion kids and they really perk up to this part.  Once you explain to them that all the above poems can be read to this song because of common meter, they are awed.  You are the cool teacher!

Want more cool points as a teacher?  Break out the karaoke machine and have the kids sing the poem into the microphone.

I provided slides to encourage the re-reading of the poems Pokemon-style.  Then we hit them with a few more songs they may be familiar with to wrap it up.  This can take you anywhere between 15 minutes to 30 minutes (maybe more) depending on how conversation goes.

Have fun with it!  

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