- About the Initiative
- Curricular Resources
- On Common Ground
- League of Institutes
- Video Programs
Have a suggestion to improve this page?
To leave a general comment about our Web site, please click here
Because moody middle school students are often unwilling to pay attention to topics that aren’t personal, making learning personal is key. As an ELA teacher, I have an advantage here, and an opportunity. The arts have no meaning without our affective responses. We can help our students realize this, while also supporting literacy, school engagement, and emotional intelligence, by teaching ekphrastic poetry, which inherently values subjectivity.
Putting their subjective responses to literature and art front and center may be novel and interesting enough to engage even the most reluctant ELA students if they have the right tools. My seventh graders will first study the vocabulary of emotion, creating personal chapbook lexicons of emotion words. They will also study color’s effect on emotion. Then, after closely reading several examples of ekphrastic poetry, we will embark on two field trips to the local museum of fine arts. Students will choose a work of art that they find evocative, and describe their moods before, during, and after encountering it. In their poetry, these descriptions will be conflated with their interpretations of the art itself. Ideally, the final poems will be naturally metaphorical, deeply personal, and surprisingly satisfying for my students.
(Developed for English, grade 7; recommended for English, grades 8-10, and Art, grades 7-10)
Number 16 of the periodical On Common Ground
Fourteenth Annual Conference
Public School Teachers Complete Program at Yale
Search Curricular Resources written by teachers in National Seminars and Local Teachers Institute seminars.
View the Photo Gallery of Participants at Yale.
Explore the archive of News and Feature Stories.