Teach This Poem: "The Shapes of Leaves" by Arthur Sze

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Arthur Sze's poem, "The Shapes of Leaves," encourages young scholars to notice and speak for others who "do not speak." The lesson begins with pupils writing about a tree that they really like. The class then examines an image of clear-cutting and record how the image makes them feel. After a close reading of Sze's poem, the whole class discussion focuses on what it means to "be on the edge of a new leaf."

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Instructional Ideas
  • The teacher resource listed in the Included Materials section below provides instructors with details of the pedagogy behind the noticing approach used in the "Teach This Poem" series
  • Use during April's Poetry Month
  • Have the class brainstorm all the ways emotions are like leaves
  • Begin the lesson by showing a time-lapse video of tress leafing in the spring
Classroom Considerations
  • Part of the Academy of American Poets "Teach This Poem" series
  • Younger learners may need additional scaffolding to make the connections between the speaker's anger and clearcutting
Pros
  • The plan includes step-by-step directions, discussion questions, and a link to another lesson for Sze's poem designed for Nation Poetry Month
Cons
  • None