Christian Poets and Poems is a 30-week curriculum developed by Marie MacPherson. It features a monthly poet and weekly poems, as well as spiraling instruction in literary/rhetorical devices and suggested vocabulary words and writing activities. It is tailored to the 5th-8th grades, but can be adapted as low as elementary school and as high as high school. Expect around 45 minutes per lesson. Each student should have a copy of the supplement “Christian Poets and Their Poems,” included in this curriculum. (This product consists of two PDFs, one for students and one for teachers.)
Pacing and How-To
- Instructor should prepare by reading the poem and writing down the rhythm and meter, as well as research the poem, if research is available.
- Instruction reads the poem aloud from the poetry supplement while students follow along.
- Group reads the poem aloud from the supplement.
- Instructor reads aloud the biography (at the beginning of each unit).
- Students scan the poem, marking meter, stress, and rhyme scheme (after week 7). The instructor should discuss/correct the students’ finds.
- Instructor reads the literary device(s) of the week aloud.
- Students find and mark the literary device(s) in the poem, with instructor help, if needed.
- Instructor reads the vocabulary words.
- Students find vocabulary words in the poem, look up definitions, and write them in the margin.
- Students look for other literary devices and discuss the meaning of the poem with the instructor. Instructor adds commentary, as needed or desired, from the poem comments section.
- Group may work on the monthly poetry writing activity, if time allows. This is optional.
- Group reads the poem aloud again in closing.
- Consider reading aloud the first of the author’s poems listed every day for the whole month. The students will likely have it memorized by the end of the month.
- A suggested poetry activity or writing project is suggested with each unit.
The Chosen Poets
Of course, many more Christian poets exist than those included in this curriculum, Christian Poets and Poems. Future curricula are planned, following this same pattern perhaps for ancient/eastern poets, medieval poets, British poets, American poets, and modern poets.
Some well-known Christian poets will be included in those curricula. This particular product introduces poetry and then focuses on King David (b. c. 1000BC), Jonson (b. 1572), Herbert (b. 1593), Crashaw (b. c. 1613), Bradstreet (b. 1672), MacDonald (b. 1824), and Lewis (b. 1898). Please note that not all poems in this curriculum feature a Christian message, but all can be appreciated and treasured by Christians.
The curriculum is designed to be taught by an instructor, but a motivated student could complete the curriculum on his or her own by following the directions above. The instructor could optimize learning with a weekly check-in regarding the poet and poem.
This curriculum is meant to be used once a week (with the exception of reading aloud the first poem from each poet daily.) However, it could be adapted for daily use (instead of weekly) by splitting the activities onto separate days. For instance, on Monday, the biography could be read. Tuesday could be used to introduce the new Literary Device and review the previous. Wednesday could be spent on writing in the meter and rhyme scheme. On Thursday, the vocabulary could be introduced. Finally, on Friday, the students could spend time writing their own poetry, as suggested by the monthly activity, or otherwise.
Please print a copy of “Christian Poets and Their Poetry,” a poetry supplement with text taken from the public domain, for each student. There are many wonderful poetry websites available for free online, including poets.org and poetryfoundation.org. The website keytopoetry.com can give details about the rhyme scheme and meter, if needed. Poemanalysis.com is an excellent tool for digging deeper in the details of the poems. Literary devices (many of which are copied and pasted below) can be found at literarydevices.net, literary-devices.com and rhetoric.by.edu. I am grateful to these, and many other sources, which are found online for use in this curriculum. I did my best to give credit to these sources throughout.
Each week, at least one new literary or rhetorical device is presented (which can also be found in the weekly poem.) The “new” literary device is the first one listed each week. Under the new device are suggestions for reviewing other devices previously learned, in a spiral fashion. Many can be found in the poem of the week, but devices in parentheses but are not necessarily found in the poem, yet should be reviewed anyway. Check the glossary in Appendix C if a definition is needed for reviewed devices.
No formal assessment is provided in this curriculum, as the main objectives are affective. However, instructors may feel free to assess the memorization of the monthly poem, accuracy of the scanning of the poem, and the comprehension of the literary/rhetorical devices.
Ideas for extending learning beyond poetry class include finding literary devices used by authors in literature/reading class, making a timeline of the poets (or add the poets to an existing timeline), and creating a end-of-the month recitation party where students showcase the poem of the month, or other poems.
Special thanks to Rev. Andrew Richard for information and inspiration in general regarding reigniting my joy in poetry, and specifically for ideas regarding this curriculum in its early stages. Commentary on a poem that he wrote for his school’s website is used for week 7.