Lesson Plan Feature: Letters to Poets

Academy of American PoetsPBS NewsHour Extra offers this wonderful lesson for grades 7-10 from The Academy of American Poets, which presents a series of activities for the classroom that allow students to explore and interact with poetry by writing letters to poets.  Aligned with the Common Core Standards, activities address the three literacy areas of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. You can use the series of activities one right after the other, or separate them as you integrate poetry with other areas of your curriculum. The activities are designed to reach diverse learners, but if you need to adapt them further, you can feel free to do so.

Sections include video, pre-activities, whole class, as well as individual/small group activities, and vocabulary.  Here’s a sample of objectives just for Activity 1:  Selecting Favorite Poems from Historical Poets of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda and William Carlos Williams

Students will:

Identify poets whose poetic voices speak to them

Select one of these poets and his or her poem to consider more deeply

Provide verbal explanation/evidence about why they have chosen this poem and poet to their peers

As an added bonus, in conjunction with the Academy’s celebration of letter writing and correspondence this National Poetry Month (April 2013), you are invited to submit your students’ letters to the Dear Poet project for a chance to receive handwritten responses from poets.

Lesson Plans: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Day Lesson PlansPBS NEWSHOUR EXTRA offers news for students and teacher resources for grades 7-12.  Here are some of its lesson plans about or related to Martin Luther King, perfect for use in the classroom leading up to Martin Luther King Day:

“I Have a Dream” As a Work of Literature: By closely reading the speech text, students can study Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s landmark speech and discuss the rhetorical influences on King’s speech, the oratorical devices that King uses in delivering his speech, and the “I Have a Dream” speech’s similarities to and differences from other literary forms.

The Freedom Riders and the Popular Music of the Civil Rights Movement:  Musicians and artists played active roles in spreading the message of leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and artists like Sam Cooke. This lesson focuses on one case study, the story of the Freedom Riders, college students who in the spring of ‘61 challenged the existing segregation laws in the American South with an assertive yet non-violent strategy.

What is the Role of Civil Disobedience Today?  Students come to understand the practice of civil disobedience in view of the death of Rosa Parks and the 50th anniversary of her landmark act. They also examine civil disobedience’s history and explore whether it is a viable form of protest in today’s world.

And, be sure to check out PBS LearningMedia for more Martin Luther King Day classroom resources, including resources on Martin Luther King Jr, the civil rights movement, and civil disobedience.