lesson plan

Teach This Poem: "Burning the Old Year" by Naomi Shihab Nye

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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

Classroom Activities

Resource: Student lists of things they accomplished in the past year and things they wanted to accomplish, but did not.

  1. Ask your students to make a list of things they accomplished in the past year and things they wanted to accomplish, but did not. (Perhaps this could be a homework assignment.) In class, have them share their lists with a partner.
  2. Project the poem “Burning the Old Year” by Naomi Shihab Nye so all your students can see it. Ask them to read it silently and write down all the words and phrases that jump out at them. Ask a student to read the poem aloud while the listening students list more words and phrases that ring out to them. Ask another student to read the poem aloud and repeat the process.
  3. Ask your students to gather in small groups and share what they noticed in the poem. How does what they noticed tell them something about transitioning from the old to the new year?
  4. Whole-class discussion: Ask your students if they think Naomi Shihab Nye is really burning something. How is she using the idea of burning? Introduce the idea of metaphor here. What does the metaphor tell us?
  5. Ask your students to write an essay about what they did not accomplish last year that they plan to accomplish in 2017. They should include a fairly detailed description of how they plan to do this.