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Lesson Plans for Black History Month

To celebrate Black History Month in February—and the rich tradition of African American poetry all year long—browse this selection of teaching resources featuring poems by Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, Marilyn Nelson, and Claudia Rankine, among others.

more black history month resources

lesson plan

Incredible Bridges: “Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander

National Endowment for the Humanities Logo
This lesson plan is part of the series "Incredible Bridges: Poets Creating Community," a project developed by the Academy of American Poets in partnership with EDSITEment, the educational website of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), during the NEH’s 50th anniversary year-long celebration.

Funded by the NEH, “Incredible Bridges” responds to the NEH's initiative The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square, which seeks to demonstrate and enhance the role of the humanities in public life.

lesson plan

Teach This Poem: “little prayer" by Danez Smith

Produced for K-12 educators, Teach This Poem features one poem a week from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The series is written by our Educator in Residence, Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, and is available for free via email.

lesson plan

Voice

New York City ninth grade teacher Gigi Goshko has created her unit "Voice" as an introduction to poetry that presents students with a diverse group of poets and poems. The unit begins by defining spoken and written poetry and then moves into a more nuanced exploration of poetry as social commentary. Students begin to acquire a poetic vocabulary through a series of learning activities that include class discussion, critical writing assignments, and personal reflection. "Voice" employs interconnectivity to create links between the poems used and the texts being read by the students throughout the year. The unit culminates in an anthology of student work, fostering a richer understanding of poetry as social commentary.

Unit Length: 13 Class Periods


 

lesson plan

On Marilyn Nelson's My Seneca Village

Written by Dawn Jacobs Martin and Daryl Grabarek, this lesson plan is based on Marilyn Nelson’s poetry collection My Seneca Village (Namelos, 2015), in which she recreates Seneca Village, a multi-racial neighborhood that existed in 19th-century Manhattan. The book includes a foreword that describes the history of Seneca Village and a guide to the poetic forms Nelson uses in her poems. 

This lesson plan was first published with the November 19, 2015, article “Marilyn Nelson’s My Seneca Village | A Lesson Plan and Discussion Guide" by School Library Journal, all rights reserved.

lesson plan

On Marilyn Nelson's Poem “1905”

Submitted by Madeleine Fuchs Holzer in Collaboration with Teachers from New Visions for Public Schools and the New York City Department of Education.