Looking for an engaging poetry lesson that will get your students thinking critically about popular culture?
Students often sing the lyrics to popular songs without really pausing to think about the messages that they convey—especially the unintended messages. By analyzing a popular song, your classes will think deeper and question the ways that youth culture is portrayed in popular media and art.
Gwendolyn Brook’s well-known and anthologized poem “We Real Cool” is deceptively simple. It tells the story of “the seven,” who play pool, skip school, and plan to die young. It also brings up questions of reputation and what it means to be cool, it incorporates an incredible amount of poetic elements for such a short poem—and it sounds great when read out loud.
When you teach this lesson on the culture of live fast, die young you will:
• engage your students with eye-opening lesson about the unintended messages in popular music
• quickly and easily teach this low-key lesson with the ready-to-go handouts
• strengthen your students’ close reading skills with the no-prep questions included here
• fulfill common core requirements while having fun
• get your students excited about analyzing poetry with this fun, jazzy poem
Pairings: This lesson would fit nicely with any unit that deals with youth culture, teens, what it means to be cool, or death; suggestions include The Catcher in the Rye, Romeo and Juliet, The Outsiders, The Lord of the Flies, Hamlet, The Great Gatsby.
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 poem and song mean, you will be empowering them with the confidence and skills to tackle a text on their own.