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Curriculum & Lesson Plans

The Academy of American Poets presents lesson plans that align with Common Core Standards, each of which have been prepared by a curriculum specialist concerned with developing skills of perception and imagination. We hope they will inspire the educators in our community to bring even more poems into your classrooms!


"The Owl" by Arthur Sze
The classroom component of this year’s National Poetry Month’s education project, Poet-to-Poet, for grades 3 to 6.

From "Manatee/Humanity" by Anne Waldman
The classroom component of this year’s National Poetry Month’s education project, Poet-to-Poet, for grades 7 to 12.

And the winner is...
Students engage poems from popular films, and then create their own screenplay scene in which poetry is central.

Love as a Two-way Street
In these activities, students explore the two-way love exhibited by one of poetry’s most famous couples: the Brownings.

Writing Letters to Poets
Students explore and interact with poetry by writing letters to historical and contemporary poets.

Poems About Poetry
What is poetry? Why is it important? The poets included in these lessons address these questions, as only they can, from their experience as poets.

From Light to Dark and Back
These lessons ask your students to explore light and dark, with poems by Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Robert Hayden, and Mark Strand.

We Sing America
These lessons focus on "songs" about the American experience at different points in history, with poems by Whitman, Hughes, and Alexander.

Ghosts and Spirits
This lesson provides students preparatory activities to hone their perception, collaborative reading, and imaginative post-activities.

More lesson plans coming soon...


Take a look at what creative writing and literature courses Camille Dungy, Elaine Equi, Dawn Lundy Martin, Ronald Wallace and Matthew Zapruder have been teaching, and design your own poetry course by learning from these examples.


All the following Curricula and Lesson Plans were created by secondary school teachers in New York and Colorado. Each teacher developed their unit over the course of an academic year and has tested his or her lesson plans in the classroom. Many of the units use visiting poets or writers-in-residence. You can see how to bring one to your classroom on our Writers in the Schools section in the Teachers Resource Center.

Our hope is to expand this page frequently. We welcome you to share with us your own successful poetry units. To leave feedback or contact the site coordinator, email

Songs My Teacher Taught Me
This unit uses a series of learning activities to explore three thematic segments: "What is Poetry?" "Poems of Childhood," and "Self and Society."

Students participate in a series of learning activities employing interconnectivity between poems used and core texts to explore poetry as social commentary.

Poetry in Translation
Students investigate poetry through the lens of their individual cultural backgrounds by translating the work of poets from their ethnic heritage and writing and translating their own poems.

The Literature of War
Invites students to develop a richer understanding of both historical and contemporary events through the study of the poetry of war.

Women in Poetry
Introduces students to a range of women's voices in poetry through a series of thematic lesson plans including "Voices of the Mothers" and "Ars Poetica."

Committed to Memory
The Academy commissioned poet John Hollander to assemble a poetry lesson that emphasized the pleasure of memorization and recitation.

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