When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer (Whitman): Poetry Close Reading and Response

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer (Whitman): Poetry Close Reading and Response
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Lesson Title:

“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman: Poetry Close Reading and Guided Response


What’s Behind the Lesson:

Throughout the week I like to spark-up the class with a good poem reading and discussion. Here is a wonderful poem that shows how poetry can sum up the beauty of the universe more effectively than science.


Read aloud to your students and ask them to show their thinking with this Guided Response. Teach this poem along other poems by the same author, of the same genre, or of similar theme.


I usually read at least three poems a week with my students. Poetry is a reliable in the classroom. Poetry is a great topic starter, writing prompt, and opportunity to have wonderful conversation with students. In addition, poetry:

  • gives opportunity for guided practice in note taking and annotation
  • builds capacity with a large number of pieces covered in a short period of time
  • gives excellent practice in identifying literary devices and different forms
  • provides practice in close reading of dense texts, looking for depth of meaning and theme



Total Pages
2 pages
Answer Key
N/A
Teaching Duration
30 minutes
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