Make a study of poetry compelling and relevant to your students’ lives.
In the film Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams famously delivers portions of Walt Whitman’s beloved “O Me! O Life!” poem. This 1-to-2-day lesson will add rigor to your students’ enjoyment of the film, but also works as a stand-alone poetry assignment if, like me, you aren’t able to use the full-length film with your classes. Either way, your students will be challenged and entertained as they work through Whitman’s words.
On the first day, share Walt Whitman’s famous poem with your students and have them work through an analysis of Whitman’s lines. The poem worksheet includes depth-of-knowledge questions that will require students to dig back into the text and their own minds to find the answers. After discussing the answers with the class, then launch the second part of the lesson, wherein you’ll view and analyze a T.V. ad that uses pieces of Whitman’s lines. The second worksheet includes a brief non-fiction reading and analysis activity. Students will be challenged to analyze the effectiveness of the advertisement and the irony of its use of Whitman's words. (Students may view the ad together as a full class or individually on internet-enabled devices.)
Use as a one-day activity with homework assignment or spread the materials over two days.
2 student handouts (PDF format)
2 detailed answer keys with discussion starters (PDF format)
90-second video clip link
Want more lessons to connect to Dead Poets Society? Click HERE for a bundle of three poetry analysis lessons to use with the film, including this one, at a 16% discount!
Want more non-fiction materials to engage and challenge your students? Click HERE for my “Let’s Get Real” series of lesson materials.
This item is also included in my full, 4-week poetry unit. Click HERE to check out my money-saving poetry lesson bundle.
If you purchase the bundle, there's no need to buy this item separately.
Finally, this item is also included in my English 9-10 full-year curriculum
. If you already own the full-year download, please do not purchase this item here individually. If you’d like to receive this item plus everything else needed to teach 180 days of English 9 or English 10 at a deeply discounted price, click here to learn more about the full-year curriculum download.
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