The Evergreens

Winter is good — his Hoar Delights

Italic flavor yield

To Intellects inebriate

With Summer, or the World —

Generic as a Quarry

And hearty — as a Rose —

Invited with Asperity

But welcome when he goes.

- Emily Dickinson (1316)




The cold temperatures getting you down? Delight in winter's embrace "hearty - as a Rose" with Emily Dickinson. Widely known and loved this American Poet for All Seasons continues to enchant each new generation with her unique style of verse.  But are you aware of the other ways Emily expressed her creative gifts? Discover a new multifaceted Emily who was renown in her hometown of Amherst Massachusetts as an accomplished baker and gardener as well as a poet!

The Baker

"I am going to learn to make bread to-morrow. So you may imagine me with my sleeves rolled up, mixing flour, milk, salaratus, etc., with a great deal of grace. I advise you if you don’t know how to make the staff of life to learn with dispatch.” - Emily Dickinson to Abiah Root, September 25, 1845 

For a new and different way to celebrate the life and work of Emily Dickinson try baking the poet's own signature Black Cake! The recipe is available through EDSITEment-reviewed Folger Shakespeare Library who serve it every year at their annual event in honor of her birthday.  Poet’s House in New York City has exhibited Emily Dickinson manuscripts including her original recipe for Coconut Cake.  The New York Times describes this facet of the “spectral titan of American poetry” as Sweet Genius.  For more background on the poet’s culinary talents turn to Emily Dickinson and Cooking from the Emily Dickinson Museum.

The Gardener

"She knew the wood-lore of the region round about, and could name the haunts and habits of every wild and garden growth within her reach.  Her eyes were wide open to nature's sights and her ears to nature's voice." - Mrs. Gordon Ford (daughter of Professor Fowler of Amherst College ) reflects on time spent with Emily as a girlhood friend

For a fresh approach to Emily's world, EDSITEment extends this bouquet of Flowers from Emily to share with students!  Cold weather won't diminish these nature poems. On the contrary, they continue to bloom and grow even through the darkest days of winter…. Visit Dickinson Properties: The Landscape and take a virtual tour of the actual garden and the flowers Emily Dickinson cultivated.  As you travel through this narrated clip, "Grounds of Memory," consider her use of flowers as metaphor. Think about how she translates her love and delight in the natural world into poetry that expresses her deep understanding of human nature and the meaning of life.

The Poet

“Reading things that are relevant to the facts of your life is of limited value. The facts are, after all, only the facts, and the yearning passionate part of you will not be met there. That is why reading ourselves as a fiction as well as fact is so liberating. The wider we read the freer we become. Emily Dickinson barely left her homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts, but when we read 'My life stood -- a loaded gun' we know we have met an imagination that will detonate life, not decorate it.” - Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?   

Many students wonder why Dickinson did not title her poems. For insight into why Dickinson Didn't Title turn to EDSITEment-reviewed Modern American Poetry's series of essays on Emily Dickinson.  There students can revel in audio recordings of British actress Julie Harris's moving portrayal of the poet as she delivers the poems and letters of Emily Dickinson. These readings, recorded in 1960, were originally presented on the stage by this actress in the one woman performance,The Belle of Amherst, which won her a Tony award for Best Actress in a Play.

Emily Dickinson's classic winter poem begins "There's a certain Slant of light, Winter Afternoons— (258).  It is available from EDSITEment-reviewed Academy of American Poets. EDSITEment's Lesson 3: Emulating Emily Dickinson: Poetry Writing from the unit: Letters from Emily Dickinson: 'Will you be my preceptor?' offers a guided close reading of this poem and an analysis of its elements.  The lesson contains an activity inviting students to "Emulate Emily" with their impressions of the poem.  Extending the Lesson section offers a different take on the poet "Emily Dickinson" by contemporary poet Linda Pastan available from Titanic Operas, Folio 1 on the Dickinson Electronic Archives. Note how Pastan addresses and then challenges the myth of Dickinson.  Ask students to consider that perception, then have them pen a poem that reflects their own perceptions of Dickinson and her influence on them.

A Valentine

Awake ye muses nine, sing me a strain divine,

Unwind the solemn twine, and tie my Valentine! - Emily Dickinson (1850)

This time of year I like to return to this little verse of Dickinson that I used to include in my homemade valentines to schoolmates. In researching the origin of these lines, I learned Valentines Day in mid-19th-century America was celebrated not for just a single day, but for a whole week!  During Valentines week, friends who were not involved romantically would engage in writing and sending notes to each other.  In 1850, Emily penned this verse which opens a longer poem in a note to Elbridge Bowdoin, a law partner of her father. It is a poem in the genial comic tradition of many 19th-century valentines. In it Emily gives advice to Bowdoin, a confirmed bachelor, urging him to marry with tongue-in-cheek suggestions about who to wed.  Bowdoin who had the foresight to save that letter for forty years would have understood it was written in that spirit.  It reflects the whimsical side of Emily and serves as a reminder that even this most sublime poet was not above engaging in a little mischief!


Additional resources on Valentines Day as it was celebrated in the mid 19th-century:

Victorian Web: Love and Derision “By the Bushell”

Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington:




[Image: The Evergreens in winter.  The house next door to Emily Dickinson's home in Amherst MA was called "the Evergreens." Built in 1856 by the poet's father, Edward Dickinson, it was a wedding present for her brother Austin.  The lives of the two Dickinson families were intertwined and unfolded in both houses as well as in Dickinson's poetry.]

turkey.jpgDo you have activities ready for Thanksgiving? Although Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated for over 200 years, the fourth Thursday of November didn’t become the official Thanksgiving Day until  1941, when Franklin Roosevelt signed the holiday into Federal law for the first time. Up until that year, the date had been in flux.


Find additional information on Thanksgiving, including how a letter writing campaign played a pivotal role in that federal law and classroom-ready lesson plans, on the ReadWriteThink calendar. You might even start a letter-writing campaign of your own with the Letter Generator.


Find other  timely ReadWriteThink calendar entries and classroom materials below.


Featured Resources

From the Calendar

  • November 18: Mickey Mouse appeared in his first animated feature. Students create a short, humorous story with at least one action character, and then use the Comic Creator to make a flipbook. (For grades 3–8)

  • November 19: Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in 1863. Students practice the Pre-AP strategy called SOAPSTone, identifying important parts of the Gettysburg Address and comparing it with John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech. (For grades 7–12)

  • November 20: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein was published in 1974. Students are introduced to a Silverstein verse and asked for their impressions. They then draw that they imagine when they read one of his lines and then write a line or two to continue the passage. (For grades 1–12)

  • November 21: Today is World Hello Day! Students study a letter written by a famous author to determine purpose, and words and phrases that make the letter meaningful. They can use the Letter Generator to write their own letter promoting peace. (For grades 5–12)

  • November 22: America celebrates Thanksgiving Day today. After reading the book Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving, students read the letter Hale sent to Lincoln and brainstorm a list of ways to make their community better. (For grades 5–12)

  • November 28: Poet William Blake was born in 1757. As a class, students brainstorm abstract concepts and personify that concept through a drawing or story told about the character who personifies that concept. (For grades 5–12)

  • November 29: Louisa May Alcott was born in 1832. Students brainstorm important events and people that might serve as the beginning of an interesting piece of writing. They then use the Bio-Cube to plan their writing and write an essay about a memorable person. (For grades 7–12)

  • November 30: Jonathan Swift was born on this day in 1667. Students explore satire and parody in television and film, advertising, and journalism and create a display that highlights their findings. (For grades 9–12)

  • In December, find lesson plans and activities on  Rosa Parks, Pearl Harbor, Bill of Rights Day, the Boston Tea Party, and more!

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, please contact us.


—Traci Gardner


[Photo: Turkey by H.L.I.T., on Flickr]

gettysburg.jpgAbraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863. While the speech is extremely short—just 267 words—Lincoln used the opportunity both to honor the sacrifice of the soldiers and to remind American citizens of the necessity of continuing to fight the Civil War. The Gettysburg Address stands as a masterpiece of persuasive rhetoric.


Looking for a way to talk about the historical anniversary? Try one of the activities on the ReadWriteThink calendar entry, use the new Word Mover mobile app to compose found poetry with the words of the Gettysburg Address, or ask students to make cards for historical figures who would be involved in the event with the Trading Cards Mobile App or Trading Cards Creator Interactive.


Find other  timely ReadWriteThink calendar entries and classroom materials below.


Featured Resources

From the Calendar

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, please contact us.


—Traci Gardner


[Photo: Cemetery Hill by Woody H1, on Flickr]

program-cover-200.jpgMeet  ReadWriteThink staff and authors in Las Vegas, November 15 to 20, for NCTE’s 2012 Annual Convention. You’ll be among the 5,500 literacy educators from across the PreK-16 grade levels who attend to get fresh teaching ideas, be inspired, and make lifelong connections by attending sessions and workshops on important topics.


Stay up-to-date by following #NCTE12 on Twitter, downloading the Convention App, uploading or browsing session materials, and viewing the Convention Program online.


Catch up with ReadWriteThink staff and authors at these sessions and workshops:


ReadWriteThink Sessions

  • A  Day With Incorporating Tools Across The Curriculum (Session D.09)
    You  may be familiar with the amazing resources on, but how can  you use these resources beyond your language arts lessons? Discover tips about  how to use in your educational setting throughout the entire  school day. Reading, writing, listening and speaking across the curriculum will  be discussed along with the complementary 21st Century skills.
          Time: Friday 11/16 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM
          Location: Studio Room 2, Grand Area, Main Floor by Grand Garden Arena, MGM Grand
  • Reading and Writing Strategies across the Curriculum: A Look At Thinkfinity (Session F.14)
              Time:  Saturday 11/17 8:00 AM - 9:15 AM
              Location: Room 307, Level Three, MGM Grand
  • Featured Ignite Spotlight—Common Standards/Uncommon Teaching (Session J.01)
    This session focuses on supporting teachers as they  implement Core Standards in their classrooms. Speakers include ReadWriteThink Project Manager Lisa Storm Fink, who will discuss Core  Tips and Strategies from
                  Time:  Saturday 11/17 2:45 PM - 4:00 PM
                  Location:  Grand Ballroom Room 122, Level One, MGM Grand
  • Meet the Editors (Session H.15)
        Talk with  Program Manager Lisa Storm Fink about    how you can contribute to the ReadWriteThink site.
              Time:  Saturday 11/17 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
              Location:  Grand Ballroom Room 113, Level One, MGM Grand

Presentations by ReadWriteThink Authors

    • Jennifer Buehler (RWT Author Page, NCTE Convention Sessions)
      • Eight Great American YA Novelists (Session B.23), Grand Ballroom Room 117, Level One, MGM Grand on Friday 11/16 from 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
      • Inspiring Readers with the Newest Young Adult Literature Award Winners (Session G.33), Studio Ballroom B, at Entrance of Grand Garden Arena, MGM Grand on Saturday 11/17 from 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
      • Reaching Them All—ALAN Has Books for Everyone (Session W.15), Premier Ballroom Room 309/310/311, Level Three, MGM Grand  on Monday 11/19 from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    • Bucky Carter (RWT Author Page, NCTE Convention Sessions)
      • Reaching Them All—ALAN Has Books for Everyone (Session W.15), Premier Ballroom Room 309/310/311, Level Three, MGM Grand  on Monday 11/19 from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    • Deborah Dean (RWT Author Page, NCTE Convention Sessions)
      • Riding the Wave of Blood and Brains into the Souls of Our Students (Session C.35), Grand Ballroom Room 114, Level One, MGM Grand on Friday 11/16 from 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
      • NCTE Author Strand—Developing Writers in a Textual World: People over Products (Session E.16), Room 204, Level Two, MGM Grand on Friday 11/16 from 4:00 PM - 5:15 PM
    • Scott Filkins (RWT Author Page, NCTE Convention Sessions)
      • Get It. Got It? Good. Formative Assessment as Inquiry (Session F.26), Grand Ballroom Room 122, Level One, MGM Grand on Saturday 11/17 from 8:00 AM - 9:15 AM
      • NCTE Author Strand—Putting Our Principles into Practice: A Workshop Session with NCTE Authors (Session JK.02), Room 101, Level One, MGM Grand on Saturday 11/17 from 2:45 PM - 5:30 PM
    • Cathy Fleischer (RWT Author Page, NCTE Convention Sessions)
      • CEE Opening Session Roundtables: Exploring Possibilities and Practices in Teacher Preparation (Session A.47), Grand Ballroom Room 116, Level One, MGM Grand on Friday 11/16 from 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
      • Raising Our Voices: A Teacher Research Group Goes Public (Session E.26), Room 106, Level One, MGM Grand on Friday 11/16 from 4:00 PM - 5:15 PM
      • NCTE Author Strand—The Other Side of the Literacy Equation: Teaming Up with Families (Session G.14), Room 308, Level Three, MGM Grand on Saturday 11/17 from 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
      • Igniting Our Professional Work through Collaboration (Session I.35), Studio Room 8, Grand Arena, Main Floor by Grand Garden Arena, MGM Grand on Saturday 11/17 from 1:15 PM - 2:30 PM
      • NCTE Author Strand—Putting Our Principles into Practice: A Workshop Session with NCTE Authors (Session JK.02), Room 101, Level One, MGM Grand on Saturday 11/17 from 2:45 PM - 5:30 PM
    • Laurie Henry (RWT Author Page, NCTE Convention Sessions)
      • Dream, Connect, Ignite! With Digital Poetry and 3D Literature Circles (Session K.35), Grand Ballroom Room 123, Level One, MGM Grand on Saturday 11/17 from 4:15 PM - 5:30 PM
    • Susan Spangler (RWT Author Page, NCTE Convention Sessions)
      • Finding Excitement in Grammar (Session D.07), Hollywood Theater, MGM Grand on Friday 11/16 from 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM
    • Phyllis and David Whitin (Phyllis's RWT Author Page, David’s RWT Author Page, NCTE Convention Sessions)
      • Expanding Notions of Critical Literacy: Where’s the Numeracy Part? (Session A.14), Room 105, Level One, MGM Grand on Friday 11/16 from 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
    • Joe Wiemelt (RWT Author Page, NCTE Convention Sessions)
      • Connecting with Critical Theories: Language as a Historical Marker for Understanding School Leadership and Learning (Session M.13), Room 110, Level One, MGM Grand on Sunday 11/18 from 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM


If you need more information about the NCTE Convention, email the NCTE convention team with your questions and comments.



—Traci Gardner


Discover  why integrating literacy practices into the flow of regular disciplinary  instruction is integral to 21st-century learners. As students strive to meet  new rigorous standards, teachers of science, mathematics, and technical  subjects face an urgent need to mentor students as readers of the varied texts  of their disciplines.


The Common Core State Literacy Standards expect students  in the STEM disciplines to meet 10 reading standards that assume learners are  regularly reading and comprehending complex texts in these disciplines. As a  result, all teachers must ensure that students can independently access the  knowledge in technical texts.


Register now to join us!


Date: Thursday, November 15

Time: 1:00 pm PT/2:00 pm MT/3:00 pm  CT/4:00 pm ET


If you have any questions, all you have to do is contact us.

—Traci Gardner

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