This poetry unit was presented as part of a larger course titled Literature of War. This course is designed to acquaint students with works of literature pertaining to the issues of war, the men involved in war, the families left behind, the innocent victims of war, and war itself. The prose contents of the unit consisted of a series of short stories from War edited by James Gibson, Hiroshima by John Hersey, and All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. Poems other than those used in this part of the class were "Arms and the Boy" by Wilfred Owens, "Grass" by Carl Sandburg, and "Does It Matter?" by Siegfried Sassoon. Following the time spent in creating the unit, the poetry component itself took about 8 class periods (90-minute classes) to present and for students to complete.
The poetry unit is broken up into five separate lessons. The first assignment ("A Starting Point") also includes an introduction to Charles Bernstein's "Poem Profiler" and how it can facilitate in a discussion of the elements of poetry (1 90-minute class period). The second lesson ("The Soldier") involves the first written assignment. The students are to come up with traits that they think a good soldier should possess. Using that list, they are to read three poems by three different authors in which the narrator is a soldier and make a decision as to which of the three comes across as being the best soldier. Using the model for a five-paragraph essay, they are to write an essay to defend their choice (2 90-minute class periods). The third lesson ("At Home") involves a look at the people left at home by the departing soldiers. They will be looking at three poems that present that perspective. The students are asked to critically look at some poetic elements and respond to questions. They are encouraged to cite specific lines to validate their response (1.5 90-minute class periods). The fourth lesson ("Contemporary Issues") involves a look at poetic responses to the September 11th tragedy and the aftermath. In this lesson the students will be asked to review three poems and answer questions that pertain to elements of poetry. Specifically they will be asked to comment on the mood and tone of each poem (1.5). The last lesson requires the students to formulate a personal view of war and express it through a reworking of an existing poem and illustrating it through images of their choosing (2 class periods).