Anthology Contribution – Lesson Plan
- Text (Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself)
Print out certain sections of the poem and randomly pass them out to the class. Have students look for themes. They get roughly five minutes to look for themes and write them down.
The students get into groups based on the passage that they received, and they pick the theme they liked the most. The instructor writes those themes on the board, then the instructor writes the themes that they themselves found on the board.
Have the students connect the passage to the theme that the instructor gives them (randomly assign everyone a theme from the class list of themes). If there is any time left over when a group is done, they pick a theme from the instructor’s list, and try to connect it to that theme.
- Have each group share what themes they found.
- Have class discuss overarching themes of the poem, allowing them to freely discuss as a class.
Through the discussion the instructor takes notes of important ideas and topics that were presented in the class’ discussions, connecting them to show what the students came up with and how it all connects together.
If we have extra time at the end, pick sections of the poem to talk about, or have them write an English summary of the passage they read.
Section 2: Existence, romanticism, nature, personhood, identity
Section 3: Humanity, time, sexuality
Section 6: Life, birth, innocence, age, time, death
Section 13: Humanity, understanding, curiosity, sexuality
Section 14: Nature, love, purpose
Section 16: Growth, diversity, peace
Section 17: Uncanny, transcendentalism, purpose
Section 18: Juxtaposition, Death, Success, Failure
Section 19: Equality, humanity, utopia, uncanny
Section 20: Existence, identity
Overarching themes: Crescendo, Purpose, Self, Transcendentalism, Romanticism
Discussion Questions (for end of lesson):
- How does passage 10 relate to the previous texts and topics we have worked with?
- After so much discussion on themes, are there any major overarching themes throughout the entire poem?
- What is the point of the poem? What is Whitman trying to say/tell us?