In 1905 Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity was big news. At the same time, a man named George Washington Carver, a genius in his own right, quietly worked on issues more concrete and closer to home. As part of Carver: A Life in Poems (Front Street, 2001), a poetry collection by Marilyn Nelson that explores the life of George Washington Carver, the poem “1905” brings us into Carver’s work with poor farmers and opens our eyes to more of the discoveries and inventions of the less touted man.
This lesson plan provides a series of activities you can use with your students before, during, and after reading “1905.” Feel free, of course, to adapt them to the needs and interests of your students, and differentiate as makes sense. The methodology used here levels the playing field for diverse students to experience poetry and helps set the stage for reading more complex texts as you address the Common Core State Standards.
A Note About Vocabulary
Ask your students keep a running list on the front board of the words they read and hear that they do not understand. You can either conduct a separate vocabulary lesson on these words where students try to figure out their meaning from context and connections or go through this process as you progress through the activities below.