Students explore poetry using American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 collection of American Memory, which covers personal stories collected by the Works Progress Administration. In particular, students write "found poetry" based on the stories found in this collection.
This unit is best undertaken after students have studied a good amount of published poetry and are familiar with at least several different elements common to most verse. These can be found in any grade-level student text or teacher manual, from junior high on up. Briefly, elements to look for include the following: alliteration, repetition, sensory language, metaphor and simile, imagery, rhythm, stanzas, and line breaks.
After completing this lesson, students will be able to:
- Ground and authenticate elements of a poetry unit through historical primary sources.
- Appreciate and recognize the elements of poetry and then to create "found poetry" from the stories and language recorded in American Life Histories, 1936-1940 from diverse geographic regions.
- Two to five weeks
Recommended Grade Level
- Poetry and Literature
- Great Depression and WWII, 1929-1945
- Progressive Era to New Era, 1900-1929
Alison Westfall and Laura Mitchell