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Monday Morning Ready03.31.2017
Jumpstart Your Week!

If you're walking through Boston during a downpour, make sure to keep your eyes on the pavement. You might just see a poem appear before your eyes. For nearly a year, Bostonians wandering the city streets in the rain may have come across poems. They are written on the sidewalk.... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Grade 3-4

Knowing that the poems on Boston's sidewalks only appear when it rains-and many people rush to get out of the rain-where do you think would be the best places to install the poems so people will have time to read them?

Grade 5-6

All of the poems selected for Boston's art installation had a relationship to the city. Each poem also had a general theme of water and rain. What other factors do you think should be considered when selecting a poem for a public project like this?

Grade 7-8

Why is the installation of poems in Boston considered to be a work of art and not graffiti?

Grade 9-10

Do you think reading poetry on a regular basis can enrich people's lives? If so, how? If not, why?

LESSON PLAN
Create a Poetry Installation

PROCESS:

  1. As a class, brainstorm ideas for innovative ways to incorporate poetry into your school or community. Explain that the ideas don't have to be complicated. For example, they could create a poetry bulletin board or write poems on school sidewalks with chalk.
  2. Select one approach. Have students work out the details of the project. How long can poems be? What is the common theme? Where in the school will the project be installed?
  3. Remind students that this is a public art project. Because of that, they must get permission to install it. Invite the appropriate school leader to the classroom so students can pitch their idea. If permission is granted, proceed with the project. If not, come up with another idea.
  4. Once the project is approved, have each student write a poem. 

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to read their poems to the class. Check to see how closely each poem follows the project guidelines. Ensure that the language used in each poem is appropriate for public posting. Once all poems are approved, have the class complete the poetry installation. 

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:    

Grades 3-4:
Instruct students to identify a type of poetry project that can be installed in the classroom. Encourage them to pitch their idea to you for approval. Once poems are written, examine them as a class. Help students identify ways in which the poems do nor do not meet the project's guidelines. Offer suggestions for improvement. Then provide the necessary supplies and have students work together to complete the poetry installment.

Grades 5-6:
Instruct students to identify a type of poetry project that can be installed anywhere on the school grounds. Supervise as students pitch their idea to the appropriate school leader. Once poems are written, have students examine their work in small groups. Instruct them to identify ways in which each poem does or does not meet the project's guidelines. Encourage students to offer suggestions for improvement. Once poems are approved, have each group complete one part of the poetry installment.

Grades 7-8: 
Instruct students to identify a type of poetry project that can be installed anywhere on the school grounds. Supervise as students pitch their idea to the appropriate school leader. Have students examine their poems in small groups. Tell them to make sure each poem meets the project's guidelines and that the language used in the poems is appropriate for public display. Give students time to revise their work. Read the poems yourself to give final approval. Then have each student complete his or her own part of the poetry installment.

Grades 9-10:
As a class, identify a type of poetry project that can be installed on school grounds or somewhere else in the community. Have students pitch their idea to the appropriate school or local leader. Once the project is approved, have students write their poems. Instruct them to examine their poems in small groups. Remind students that all poems must follow the project's guidelines and the language used in each poem must be appropriate for public display. Give students time to revise their work. Read the poems yourself to give final approval. Then have each student complete his or her own part of the poetry installment.

SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
What Langston Hughes’ Powerful Poem “I, Too” Tells Us About America’s Past and Present
In this Smithsonian article, historian David Ward reflects on Langston Hughes’ work and its significance in American culture and society.

Silhouettes and Interiors
In this lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, students examine genres of art and literature and create personal poetry and a collage.

Batting Practice and Poetry in Motion
These lessons from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service focus on the life of Roberto Clemente. Students look at statistics of his baseball career, use mathematics to gauge his athleticism, use visual art skills to create an action portrait of Clemente and write a poem that is inspired by his famous quotes and centered on themes of his life.

Music, Poetry and History: The National Anthem
The national anthem describes an actual event in American history. In this classroom activity from the National Museum of American History, elementary students will be able to recite the first verse and paraphrase “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Students will also be able to explain why Francis Scott Key wrote these words in 1814.

Ekphrastic Poetry Lesson
In this lesson from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, students will write a ten-line poem inspired by an artwork.

The Music in Poetry
These lessons, presented by the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, introduce students to the rhythms of poetry. The focus is on two poetic forms that originated as forms of song: the ballad stanza, found throughout British and American literature, and the blues stanzas of Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes.
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