220. Good Bones: Maggie Smith

What makes something go viral? It's a good question to ask your students.  If you ask them about "Literature with a capital 'L'" they won't know what you're talking about.  Classics?  Old books?  Books librarians shove in your hand, that have gold seals on them and are not good but good for you?  Personally, I... Continue Reading →


115. Autumn: Alexander S. Pushkin

It is hard to imagine the seasons any different than where one grows up. Being a New Englander, autumn means leaves turning and falling. Our media backs up my images, with raking being a chore and kids jumping in piles of brown leaves, even as I know that most of the country does not have... Continue Reading →

108. The Book-Worms: Robert Burns

Something short and sweet for the start of the year. Nothing deep. Not much mystery. A bit funny, and perhaps a bit anti-antilectual for your middle school rebels. One great reason to use Burns is that he's fun to read in dialect. Have your class clown develop his best Scottish accent and do an over-the-top... Continue Reading →

101. (182) So Long: Walt Whitman

It is a bit long, and, if read one way, a bit... intimate. Still, Whitman is considered by many the Yankee Doodle Dandy of American poetry. Our Shakespeare, and important and baffling and... American as that implies. I tend to stay away from longer poems, but Whitman's strength is how he weaves ideas and images... Continue Reading →

90. Bread and Roses: James Oppenheim

The Bread and Roses Strike of 1912 was a watershed event in the labor and women's rights movements. It occurred in the town next to where I grew up, yet we never studied it in school. Even while reading about the advent of the Industrial Revolution and visiting the factory museums in nearby Lowell no... Continue Reading →

87. Slough: John Betjeman

For those who have enjoyed the original British version of "The Office" you may be familiar with the poem "Slough". It is the city in which the original show takes place. That show focused on the dead-end, life-killing nature of working in a business office. The character viewers are to relate most to, Tim, works... Continue Reading →

85. Sound and Sense: Alexander Pope

I do not celebrate National Poetry Month. Obviously, it's not because I don't like poetry, but instead because anything worth teaching is worth transcending. Black History Month, which started the "Month" trend, clearly did the job by demanding a cursory address of the importance of black Americans to our history. Likewise, National Poetry Month leads... Continue Reading →

82. Aeneid 1. 430-37: Vergil

This is from the UVM Latin Day program. I do not speak or read Latin, but am a huge proponent of students taking it. Indeed, if I had my way all students would take a year before taking French, Spanish and the like. How else can you learn English without knowing its origins. The University... Continue Reading →

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