In the introduction and rationale sections of this unit plan, teacher Maureen Ann Lynch develops a compelling case for teaching poetry in the middle school classroom. Her discussion of the emotional nature of poetry, which helps adolescents connect to the emotions in their own hearts, inspires me to do all that I can to make poetry accessible for adolescent students. This unit plan also offers a wealth of ideas for your poetry unit!
Here “The Red Wheelbarrow” is animated with music and words, but the words are not spoken. Compare with the visual effect of seeing the poem on the page. Then challenge students to create their own animations or dramatizations of a poem!
Another reading of “Oranges” with video, this one set to music. Combine with the resource above ("Oranges by Gary Soto") to compare two different interpretations of the poem and prompt students to think about how they might animate a poem.
One of the most visual ways to experience poetry as imagery is to actually see it! This video pairs images with Gary Soto's poem "Oranges" to bring the poem to life. I suggest prompting students to visualize the poem as you read it aloud. Then show this video and ask them to compare it with their own visualization of the poem.
This toolkit is designed by Target to inspire children of all ages to celebrate diversity. Take a look at pages 1-4 for some great lesson activities created for Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem, “My Grandmother is Waiting for me to Come Home.” These activities help students to focus on the imagery in the poem. Pages 5-6, focused on Margaret Walker’s “Lineage” provide more ways to examine imagery. Continue reading for additional work by writers of color and some related teaching ideas.
This sample lesson plan utilizes a sensory, whole-class approach to introduce imagery to students. I find this definition of imagery to be very helpful. After introducing the concept of imagery, apply it to a poem by asking students to identify images of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell present in the poem.
This short article provides various ideas for learning activities that engage students on the topic of imagery in poetry. I found this resource helpful in jump-starting my own planning of a poetry unit. I have used the ideas presented here--selecting familiar poems, guiding classroom discussions, creating art, and writing metaphors or similes--to make poetry more accessible to students.