Considering borders, marginalization, & structure with two poems by Philip Metres

Today’s post is by guest author Charles Ellenbogen, who is in his 27th year of teaching. He teaches Language & Literature at Campus International High School in Cleveland, Ohio, and has recently published a teaching memoir, This Isn’t the Movies: 25 Years in the Classroom. As of this writing, he is safe at home with Kirsten, his wife, Zoe and Ezra, his children, and Lincoln and Chocolate Scales, their pets.

Students start with “Marginalia with Uprooted Olives” by Philip Metres from Shrapnel Maps (April 2020, Copper Canyon Press) Continue reading

TeachLivingPoets Distance Learning Project

bhToday’s distance learning project post is by Brian Hannon, who teaches AP Language and Composition, AP Literature and Composition, and English 11 at Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Virginia. Outside of school, Brian currently serves as the Youth and Education Development Fellow at the Washington D.C. non-profit poetry organization, Split This Rock.  He also works part-time for the Ultimate Fighting Championship and as a Muay Thai instructor. In 2018, Brian was a finalist for Fairfax County Public Schools Teacher of the Year and was his conference’s Coach of the Year for Hayfield’s Varsity Tennis Team.

Since we’re stuck at home and have been directed to create lessons that students can complete remotely, I’m sure that many of you feel a bit of pressure to come up with engaging, meaningful lessons that don’t require TOO much oversight from yourselves.  I, too, am in that boat, so I just wanted to share an assignment that worked well for me and my students, one that they were able to complete independently.  In retrospect, I wish I had assigned this lesson AFTER the closure of school, but I don’t think anybody was prescient enough to predict the pandemic that we now find ourselves in! Continue reading

Distance Learning Podcast Unit

I love making podcasts with my students, so I modified my podcast unit to distance learning needs. Using this hyperdoc, students are walked through a step-by-step process that ends in the final product of creating their own podcast episode. 

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What the unit includes: 

A fully functional hyperdoc you can share with your students and have them complete independently from home (a device and internet connection is needed). Just make a copy and change the due dates to suit your needs.

Mentor text podcast episodes with guiding questions for students to consider Continue reading

Snapshots of the Past with Natasha Trethewey

This is the seventh installment in a series at #TeachLivingPoets. The Poet Laureate Project features a different U.S. Poet Laureate each month during the 2019-2020 school year. Guest author Ann Cox highlights one or two of their poems, suggests activities to use these pieces in the classroom, and touches upon their contributions to the promotion of poetry in America. Ann Cox has over 20 years of experience teaching high school English, including AP Lit, Creative Writing, and Speech. She also spent several years as a teacher consultant for the Illinois State Writing Project.

logoThis month’s featured poet is Natasha Trethewey, who served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 2012-2014. Her honors include a Pulitzer Prize, fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and inductions into the Fellowship of Southern Writers and the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.

Trethewey focuses on both the personal and the historical in her work. Academy of American Poets Chancellor Marilyn Nelson said, “Natasha Trethewey’s poems plumb personal and national history to meditate on the conundrum of American racial identities…Trethewey encourages us to reflect [and] learn….” I’ve chosen her poem “History Lesson” to showcase how artfully she blends the personal with the historical. Continue reading

A Declaration in Poetry with Tracy K. Smith

This is the sixth installment in a series at #TeachLivingPoets. The Poet Laureate Project features a different U.S. Poet Laureate each month during the 2019-2020 school year. Guest author Ann Cox highlights one or two of their poems, suggests activities to use these pieces in the classroom, and touches upon their contributions to the promotion of poetry in America. Ann Cox has over 20 years of experience teaching high school English, including AP Lit, Creative Writing, and Speech. She also spent several years as a teacher consultant for the Illinois State Writing Project.

This month’s featured poet is Pulitzer-Prize winner Tracy K. Smith, who served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 2017-2019. She is the director of the Creative Writing program at Princeton University and the host of American Public Media’s daily radio program and podcast The Slowdown Continue reading

Celebrate Black Poets

logoTo celebrate Black History Month, I start class off everyday with a poem by a Black poet. Here’s my Playlist if you want to use it in your classroom. Sometimes we talk about the poem afterwards, sometimes we free-write or journal, sometimes we just let the poem be. It depends on the poem and our agenda for the day. This list is nowhere near complete, and I encourage you to discover and share more Black artists who will resonate with your students. If you aren’t doing anything yet to honor Black History Month in your class, you should be, and it’s not too late to start.

Continue reading

Crossing Borders with Juan Felipe Herrera

This is the fifth installment in a series at #TeachLivingPoets. The Poet Laureate Project features a different U.S. Poet Laureate each month during the 2019-2020 school year. Guest author Ann Cox highlights one or two of their poems, suggests activities to use these pieces in the classroom, and touches upon their contributions to the promotion of poetry in logoAmerica. Ann Cox has over 20 years of experience teaching high school English, including AP Lit, Creative Writing, and Speech. She also spent several years as a teacher consultant for the Illinois State Writing Project.

This month’s featured poet is Juan Felipe Herrera, who served as Poet Laureate from 2015-2016 and was the first Latino to hold this position. In addition to poetry, Herrera has also written children’s literature and young adult novels. He has won numerous awards for his work. Continue reading