Want to immerse your students in the diversity of this country by studying engaging poetry together?
Your students will learn so much when they explore the essential questions of American Literature with this giant unit.
A collection of questions on 40 poems, spanning from Puritan poetry to contemporary poetry, this bundle will provide you with two months of rigorous, engaging, and ready-to-go lessons. The themes explored in these units--materialism, love, race, family dynamics, class, immigration, language, tradition, gender, the search for the self, the American Dream--are great choices for supplementing a thematic unit, for adding more voices and perspectives to your unit on a novel or play, or for a sub plan.
Every lesson contains questions for close reading and discussion, freewrite prompts, suggestions for creative interactive notebook activities, and ideas for assessment. All of the answer keys quote the important passages, so there is no guessing on your part as to which parts of the poems are most important. When you discuss the questions with your classes, you can point them to the sections to make sure that they are engaging with the poetry and working to interpret the sometimes challenging language.
With 7 different suggestions for assessment including essays, projects, and quizzes with rubrics and guides, you will have plenty to chose from—and you won’t get bored grading student work.
The variety of materials, real-life connections, and innovative approaches to the information will keep students engaged and excited about learning. Additionally, the concrete text-based questions and unique sources discourage cheating and encourage students to answer for themselves.
There are no lectures or power points here—students will do the work themselves, with guidance from their teacher. Rather than telling them what the poems mean, you will be empowering them with the confidence and skills to tackle a poem on their own.
"Wonderful addition to my American Studies class. Kids were engaged with every lesson."--Buyer
This resource includes questions on the following poems (though the texts of all the poems are included because of copyright):
“To My Dear and Loving Husband” by Anne Bradstreet
“Verses upon the Burning of our House, July 18th, 1666” by Anne Bradstreet
"Half-Hanged Mary" by Margaret Atwood
“Much Madness is Divinest Sense” by Emily Dickinson
“This is My Letter to the World” by Emily Dickinson
“When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer” by Walt Whitman
"I Hear America Singing" by Walt Whitman
"I ,Too” by Langston Hughes
“Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes
"Harlem" (also known as "Dreams" or "A Dream Deferred") by Langston Hughes
“Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes
“Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes
“Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem” by Helene Johnson
"We Were the Mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar
“If We Must Die” by Claude Mckay
“If and When Dreams Come True” by W.S. Mark
“Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson
“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus
"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost
“Sonnet: The Ladies Home Journal” by Sandra Gilbert
“The Tropics of New York” by Claude McKay
“A Supermarket in California” by Allen Ginsberg
“Elena” by Pat Mora
“La Migra” by Pat Mora
“Postcard from Kashmir” by Agha Shahid Ali
“My Uncle’s Favorite Coffee Shop” by Naomi Shihab Nye
“The Island Within” by Richard Blanco
“We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks
“Prospective Immigrants Please Note” by Adrienne Rich
“Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich
“The Victims” by Sharon Olds
"Hanging Fire" by Audre Lorde
“The Birthday of the World” by Marge Piercy
"2000 lbs." by Brian Turner
"Hurt Locker" by Brian Turner
"Eulogy" by Brian Turner
“The Trail of Tears: Our Removal” by Linda Hogan
“Busted Boy” by Simon Ortiz
Products included in this bundle all available at a discount when you buy them together:
Poetic Devices | Elements of Poetry | Poetic Elements | Poetry Activities (normally priced at $5.97). Now updated for teaching online with Google Classroom, this is a practical introduction of poetry elements and devices for students. You can view the individual resource by clicking here.
Poetry Unit: Close Reading & Literary Analysis Introduction | Poetry Activities (normally priced at $9.97). This is a step-by-step guide to interpreting and analyzing poetry using graphic organizers; poems, explanations, graphic organizers, discussion questions, and answer keys are all included. You can view the individual resource by clicking here.
Anne Bradstreet Puritan Poetry | Upon the Burning of Our House | Close Reading (normally priced at $3.97). Th euestions for close reading and literary analysis on two poems by Anne Bradstreet introduce the themes of the unit by asking students to think about materialism, love, and the afterlife. You can view the individual resource by clicking here.
Margaret Atwood "Half-Hanged Mary" Poem | Close Reading (normally priced at $3.97) A modern feminist retelling of the witch hunts of the Puritan times, this poem by Margaret Atwood is a great choice for teaching poetic elements as well as for exploring some of the major themes of American Literature. While students might need a few class periods to fully read and analyze the entire piece, that time will be well spent on a fascinating and unique poem. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Langston Hughes “I, Too" and Walt Whitman Paired Texts Poetry Lesson (normally priced at $1.97). This lesson focusing on two classic poems, these handouts will get students questioning and thinking about the greatness of America. You can view the individual resource by clicking here.
Langston Hughes "Let America Be America Again" Poetry Analysis Lesson (normally priced at $2.97). Langston Hughes is a favorite among students, and this poem is one that they rarely forget; dealing with themes of the American Dream and especially the people to whom that dream is not always a reality, this poem is impactful. You can view the individual resource by clicking here.
Harlem Renaissance Poetry Unit | Paired Texts with Langston Hughes (normally priced at $3.99). These three challenging but accessible poems from the Harlem Renaissance all deal with themes of the American Dream. Within that broad topic, "Harlem" (also known as "Dreams" or "A Dream Deferred") by Langston Hughes, “Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem,” by Helene Johnson, and "We Were the Mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar also deal with themes of race, culture, and heritage. You can view the individual resource by clicking here
"Richard Cory" & "If and When Dreams Come True” | The Great Gatsby Poetry Unit (normally priced at $1.97) These two poems offer unique perspectives on dreams, class, and happiness and are often paired with The Great Gatsby. You can view the individual resource by clicking here.
Gender Roles Poetry Close Reading Lesson | Consumerism 1950s | Poetry Analysis (normally priced at $2.99). These two poems in many ways epitomize the struggles of mid-20th-century America; dealing with themes of class, gender, and consumerism, this lesson will get students analyzing challenging poetry and thinking about how the structure of a poem helps create meaning. You can view the individual resource by clicking here.
Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken | Poetry Close Reading & Literary Analysis (normally priced at $1.97) Get your students thinking about big ideas and questions that matter, as well as noticing how the smallest details of a poem contribute to meaning. This poem is one that everyone thinks they know, but they don’t really. Ultimately, your students will realize that this poem is about the lies we tell others and ourselves in order to add meaning and depth to our decisions in life. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Point of View Poetry Lesson: Family & Divorce | Close Reading & Poetry Analysis (normally priced at $1.47). Taking it to a more personal level, this poem deals with how class and gender affect the family dynamic; this poem is another favorite with students, whatever their family dynamic. You can view the individual resource by clicking here.
Poetry Close Reading Lesson: Immigration & the American Dream | Pat Mora (normally priced at $1.97). These two poems are easy for students to read, but they are also deceptive in their simplicity; dealing with themes of power, class, violence, communication, the family, and immigration, they are impactful poems that will get students questioning their own assumptions and beliefs. You can view the individual resource by clicking here.
Immigration Poetry Lesson: Homesickness (normally priced at $3.97). Poetry questions on close reading will get your students analyzing modern, relevant poetry and engaged in texts that matter. By examining the four poems, students will gain perspective and empathy for people whose lives are likely very different from their own. They will also sharpen their poetry analysis skills and their critical thinking skills. The pain of missing home is a universal experience, but for immigrants, that feeling is especially powerful. Additionally, defining home when you no longer live where you were born or where you grow up can be tricky. You can view the individual resource by clicking here .
Literary Analysis & Immigration Lesson: Emma Lazarus "The New Colossus" (normally priced at $3.97). Immigration is a complicated issue, and with these two poems, students will explore the different expectations and ambiguities of the immigrant experience. You can view the individual resource by clicking here.
"Hanging Fire" by Audre Lorde | Close Reading Poetry Lesson (normally priced at $1.47) This is an accessible and relevant poem that has been a favorite of my students for years. In this free verse poem, the teenage speaker worries about everything from braces to her own death. Students will love this poem because of its natural sound and its portrayal of the teenage mind. You will love this poem because it will broaden your students’ understanding of what makes great poetry. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Contemporary Poems: Iraq War Veteran Brian Turner (normally priced at $2.99) Brian Turner is a contemporary American poet and a veteran of the Iraq War. This engaging lesson explores the experience of listening to a poet read and explain his own poetry. The discussions here will engage students to think about different ways to experience poetry. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Marge Piercy Poem Lesson | Rosh Hashanah | Activities | Close Reading (normally priced at $1.97) This poetry lesson on Marge Piercy’s poem “The Birthday of the World” will get your students thinking about how they can spark a change in their own worlds. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Claude McKay, If We Must Die | Harlem Renaissance Unit | Distance Learning (normally priced at $2.97). Written after the horrific events of the Red Summer of 1919, Claude McKay’s timeless poem “If We Must Die” attempts to answer that important question. This classic of the Harlem Renaissance is also a great poem to explore issues of the Black Lives Matter movement. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking .
Langston Hughes | Harlem Renaissance | Distance Learning | Google Classroom (normally priced at $2.97). In “Theme for English B,” the speaker is tasked with a vague assignment to write a page about himself. His frustrations with finding the truth through writing are universal, but what this student reveals about the truths of race and his own identity are subtle, complex, and a great addition to your curriculum. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking .
Mother to Son | Langston Hughes | Distance Learning | Google Classroom (normally priced at $1.97). Langston Hughes’ poem “Mother to Son” is simple enough for most students to comprehend the bigger themes without a problem, yet in spite—or perhaps because of—its simplicity, it is also a wonderful poem for exploring extended metaphor, a parent’s love for their children, and natural writing. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking .
Contemporary Native American Literature | Distance Learning | Google Classroom (normally priced at $1.97). Telling the story of a Native American who witnesses a Black boy get arrested at a bus station, Simon Ortiz’s powerful and accessible poem is a great choice for teaching diction, imagery, syntax, enjambment, and point of view. It is also a wonderful choice for discussing themes of race, power, and the American experience. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking .
Native American Literature | Sherman Alexie | Indigenous Poetry | Stereotypes (normally priced at $2.97). Students might know some of the stereotypes surrounding Indigenous people, but they likely don’t fully understand where they come from, why they are harmful, or why positive stereotypes can be equally painful as negative ones. This 90-minute lesson will get them examining some of those assumptions when they explore videos featuring teens talking about stereotypes, a powerful slam poem performance, an accessible and interesting opinion piece, and a funny and satirical poem by Sherman Alexie. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking .
Trail of Tears Unit | Native American Literature | Indian Removal Unit (normally priced at $3.97). This innovative unit will take your students beyond a general understanding of the events of the 1830s to a more comprehensive understanding of why history matters. Students will start out by exploring two engaging videos: one on the history of the Trail of Tears and one on why treaties still matter today. Then, they’ll move on to a creative exploration of some first-hand accounts and historical documents from the period. After that, they’ll work to analyze Linda Hogan’s prose writing on the removal as well as Hogan’s poem “The Trail of Tears: Our Removal.” Finally, your classes will research which tribe was formerly on the land where they are living today so that they can more fully understand the sacrifices that have enabled them to live on that land. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking .
The American Experience is a big topic—there are no easy answers and no simple explanations. But when students explore a large variety of experiences, they will begin to understand the problems, variety, and greatness of this country.