For National Poetry Month Stop by the Teachers Corner From the Catbird’s Seat

Rebecca Newland the 2013-2015 Library of Congress Teacher in Residence

Those of you who are regular visitors to our twitter feed may remember seeing occasional tweets about the blog From the Catbird’s Seat from the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library. There are many wonderful posts From the Catbird Seat, but of special interest to many teachers will be the “Teacher’s Corner.” This feature, written by 2013-2015 Library of Congress Teacher in Residence Rebecca Newland, provides a variety of suggestions to use poetry and primary sources to engage students, encourage critical thinking and analysis, and inspire students to read – and write! – more poetry.

Ready to take a step into the “Teacher’s Corner”? Here are a few posts to get you started.

Turning a Poem into a Play

Are your students having trouble understanding a poem? Rebecca shows how asking students to act out a poem can help them better understand it.

Unexpected Poets

Help students learn that poetry can come from unexpected places and unexpected people. Supplement this activity with the Web guide of Poetry from Presidents and encourage students to compare presidential poems with the president that wrote them. What do the poems help students learn about the person who wrote them?

Poetic Reactions to Historical Events

Explore the poetry of Walt Whitman to see his reactions to the Civil War and to the death of President Lincoln. Students can see how poems can document responses to important events in history.

The Evolutionary Rainbow mural by Yana Zegri in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, San Francisco, California. Carol Highsmith, 2012

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words: Using Photographs to Prompt Poetry

Trying to get your students to write poems of their own? Rebecca provides tips on how to use photographs to help inspire student writing and provides links to Library collections that have thousands of photographs that may provide writing prompts.

Write Poetry to Encourage Reflection in a Hectic World

Ideas to help encourage students to write poetry to help them find quiet in what can be a loud and chaotic world.

Hopefully these posts will give you a taste of what’s available from the “Teacher’s Corner” of From the Catbird Seat.

Visit the Poetry and Literature Center website to learn more about the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry and the people who have served in that role, including current Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. Also learn about the podcast From the Catbird Seat and other features, including Poetry 180 and the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature, which now has 50 new recordings of poets and writers participating in literary events at the Library.

How have you incorporated poetry into your classroom activities this month? Let us know in the comments.


Starting Conversations with Students about Personal Spending, Investing, and Stewardship with Historical Receipts

In the Sources and Strategies article, we explained that receipts for personal expenses such as these – for initiation fees, annual and lifetime membership dues, taxes, and donations – can provide starting points for conversations with students about a wide variety of economic topics from personal spending to investing to stewardship, and more.

A Recipe for Project-Based Learning

Recipes, like music scores, are especially interesting to me because they can still be used in the way the author originally intended. Though one cannot read historic newspapers to stay apprised of current events, or read historic letters to stay in touch with friends, “American orphan”; Amelia Simmons can speak through the centuries to help the reader get dinner to the table.

Encouraging Student Examination of Persuasive Strategies Used in an Anti-Lynching Report

In the November-December 2018 issue of Social Education, the journal of the National Council for the Social Studies, our “Sources and Strategies” article focuses on one document used in the battle against mob violence against African Americans: a 1921 report from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary in support of a bill to make lynching a federal crime.