lesson plan

Teach This Poem: "Always on the Train" by Ruth Stone

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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.

Featured Poem

"A Mile of Trash Quickly Disappears"

A Mile of Trash Quickly Disappears
Classroom Activities
  1. Show your students the photograph of trash near the railroad tracks from The Elkhart Truth. Ask them to look at it twice—the first time to get a feel for what is going on in the photograph. The second time, ask them to write down the details of what they see.
  2. Ask your students to write a paragraph describing what they see in the photograph and their reaction to it.
  3. Project the image of Ruth Stone’s poem “Always on the Train.” Ask your students to read it silently and write down the words, phrases, and images that jump out at them.
  4. Ask two students to read the poem aloud, one after the other. Have the listening students write down new words, phrases, and images that jump out at them that they did not hear before.
  5. Ask your students to get into small groups and to share what they wrote down from the two readings. Tell them this is important to the next discussion.
  6. From what they read and heard, what do they the poet is saying about the trash in the poem?
  7. If it does not come up naturally, ask them why they think Ruth Stone talks about the “black high flung patterns of flocking birds.”