Questions on two poems about perseverance, hard work, and grit encourage close reading, analysis of poetic elements, as well as deeper thinking and discussion about the themes and big ideas of the poems.
While on the surface these two poems differ greatly in their tone and subject matter, both “The Writer” by Richard Wilbur and “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley are great poems to explore the concept of growth mindset. “The Writer” tells a story of a father listening to his daughter write in her room; by comparing her experience writing a story to that of a ship traveling over the sea as well as to a bird that the speaker and his daughter watched struggle to break free one day, the speaker discusses themes of persistence, pain, struggle, and of the journey of life. In “Invictus,” the speaker tells of his struggles with the darkness and brutality of circumstance and speaks of the power that he has to decide his own fate no matter what comes his way. (The text of “The Writer” has not been included in this packet because of copyright laws.)
These handouts of thorough and precise questions are ready to go with minimal prep on the part of the teacher.
There are also prompts for in-class writing as well as for longer assessment.
Pairings: These poems would pair well with any texts that deal with themes of struggle, hardship, fate, journeys, or perseverance. Suggestions include Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, The Odyssey, The Iliad, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, The Color Purple, The Scarlet Letter, Things Fall Apart, and 1984.
Want to further explore growth mindset with your classes? Want challenging non-fiction passages, a research project, and challenging poems? Want ready-to-go handouts for all of those lessons? Want multiple options for assessment? Want to save money as well? Check out my Growth Mindset Unit Bundle