Photo of Walt Whitman during Civil War

Today we celebrate this beloved American poet born May 31, 1819EDSITEment offers resources on Walt Whitman whose poetry and notebooks convey the Civil War in a most direct and poignant manner.  Through his writing students gain insight into the human experience of suffering and grief in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the War.  His Civil War experience along with other episodes from his fascinating life are featured in the NEH funded American Experience PBS documentary on Walt Whitman (no longer available online) including The Teacher's Guide.

 

 

In his early writing, Walt Whitman set out to explore ideas universal in scope. EDSITEment lesson Walt Whitman's Notebooks and Poetry: the Sweep of the Universe directs students to seek clues to this poet’s effort to create a new and distinctly American form of verse. Of special interest to English teachers using this lesson is Activity 2. Whitman and the Civil War.  Here students work with Walt Whitman's words in three different formats—notebooks, prose, poetry—to deepen their understanding of Whitman's process. Using Whitman's writing as well as Civil War photographs and poems created from Whitman notebook entries, student groups are challenged to create a presentation for the class that demonstrates the connections between the materials they have analyzed.

 

Another EDSITEment lesson Walt Whitman to Langston Hughes: Poems for a Democracy explores the historical context of Whitman's concept of "democratic poetry" and examines daguerreotypes taken circa 1850. Both lessons illustrate how Whitman was determined to express truth through verse using authentic American situations and settings with language that appealed to the senses. The Civil War would provide him with ample opportunity.


Walt Whitman’s notebooks available through the EDSITEment-reviewed American Memory Project illustrate the Poet at Work and capture wrenching images that war evoked for him. The article, Daybreak Gray and Dim: How the Civil War Changed Walt Whitman’s Poetry from NEH Humanities magazine, characterizes Whitman’s first response to the call of war: “BEAT! beat! Drums! — blow! bugles! blow!” Haunting scenes of human suffering shape his maturing response to the war and find their way into this tender musing upon “A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim,” available at the NEH-funded Walt Whitman Archive, that will lead him to minister to soldiers through the end of the war.


Was Whitman prescient when he declared his early ideals in Democratic Vistas (available on the EDSITEment resource American Studies at the University of Virginia)? “In the future of these States must arise poets immenser far, and make great poems of death. The poems of life are great, but there must be the poems of the purports of life, not only in itself, but beyond itself.” Whitman was himself destined to write the nation’s quintessential poem on life, death, and rebirth. When Lilacs Last in the dooryard Bloom’d articulates America’s grief upon President Lincoln’s untimely death in this lament of a stricken nation as it watches the train with Lincoln’s body make its way across the country to its final resting place. A critical discussion of this elegy with its three archetypal symbols — the lilac, the star, and the hermit thrush — is found at the Whitman Archive.

 

Shelley

EDSITEment

bee.jpgIt’s the time of year when spelling exotic words  you’d never use in day-to-day communication is all the rage. The final rounds of the Scripps  Spelling Bee take place, with daily coverage on ESPN.

 

As I wrote in an NCTE Inbox blog post a few years ago, the problem is that while spelling has  become prime time entertainment, spelling bees still aren't good pedagogy. A  2007 Washington  Post article explains that spelling bees provide limited support to students learning about words and the ways that they work. Sue Ann Gleason, the teacher quoted in the article explains the spelling bees “honor the children who already know how to spell, but they do little to support those who need explicit instruction.”

 

So while the Spelling Bee may get kids and their families interested in spelling for a few days, take a look at the spelling lesson plans and activities on ReadWriteThink for ways to support every student (not just the ones who can spell funny words like weissnichtwo). And check out the calendar entries, lesson plans, and classroom activities below for  more classroom-ready ideas. Have a great week!

 

New Resources

From the Calendar

 

Discuss These Topics with Other Teachers

 

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, all you have to do is contact us.

 

—Traci Gardner

 

 

[Photo: Bee by _PaulS_, on Flickr]

cmuller

Why do we write?

Posted by cmuller May 21, 2012

Here's an article I found about "Why I Write"on the website <http://www.galleryofwriting.org>.  I think this article really sums up the different reasons we write. It can be viewed on the galleryofwriting.org website or as the attached file below.

 

Thanks,

Cmuller

'Flags-In' at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day 2008Observed on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day honors the men and women who have died while serving in the United States military. In addition to having celebrations with family and friends, many people visit cemeteries and memorials and place flags on the grave sites of fallen servicemen and women.

 

Share  stories of war, sacrifice and honor  with ReadWriteThink resources for Memorial Day. The listed lesson plans invite students to take a look at Wartime Poetry, explore the short stories of Tim O’Brien, and set off on a Vietnam War Scavenger Hunt. You can find additional resources for Honoring Our Military from our Thinkfinity partners, including a podcast on Music in the Military and an interactive version of The Gettysburg Address.

 

For classroom materials on   other  timely topics, just keep reading! We have materials on Charles Lindbergh, Mister Rogers, Scott O’Dell, and more!

 

New Resources

From the Calendar

 

Discuss These Topics with Other Teachers

 

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, all you have to do is contact us.

 

—Traci Gardner

 

 

[Photo: Flags-In' at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day 2008 by The U.S. Army, on Flickr]

Girl ReadingHaving trouble finding that perfect book? Listen to our podcasts for some great book recommendations. Chatting About Books: Recommendations for Young Readers focuses on books for children in grades K–5. Text Messages: Recommendations for Adolescent Readers provides families, educators, out-of-school practitioners, and tutors reading recommendations they can pass along to teen readers.

 

This month on Chatting About Books, listen in as Emily Manning chats with Judy Young, one of the authors of the Tales of Young American series. Judy discusses her research process and how she looks for “seeds” of history that she can grow into stories. She also shares which time period she would like to visit if she could go back in time!

 

In the world of young adult literature, there are certain authors readers can count on to engage both their minds and their hearts in a good story. Francisco X. Stork is one of those authors. Tune in to Text Messages to hear about Francisco’s novels, including how they explore themes of religious faith and ambition, how his own life experiences are reflected in his books, and how he thinks about the diverse Latino characters he has created.

 

For classroom materials on   other  timely topics, just keep reading! We have materials on George Lucas, the Academy Awards, Raymond Carver, Malcolm X,  and more!

 

New Resources

From the Calendar

 

Discuss These Topics with Other Teachers

 

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, all you have to do is contact us.

 

—Traci Gardner

 

 

[Photo: Girl Reading by o5com, on Flickr]

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