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The Color of Beauty in the Darkness – Using Poetry and Art to Create a Visual Picture of Your World

In this 6thgrade middle-school English unit, students will enjoy reading poetry where they can see the contrast and juxtaposition of color, ideas, beliefs or beauty inside a type of dark or hopeless world of the speakers. Students will learn the technique of close readings where every child gets involved in analyzing poetry. Students will use the poetry they read throughout this unit as examples to write their own poems and create artwork.

We all come from diverse backgrounds and children often shelter their feelings and emotions. My goal is to help children bring to light their situations through writing. Over time, students become open with their personal experiences and they are willing to figure out how they can come to grips with their living situations, their parents and issues they have socially. Young children grow up in an environment they don’t completely understand, or rather, they have never taken the time to understand it or see it for what it is. I want students to take notice of their environment and see the beauty that surrounds them even though life and times may be hard for them.

This unit will use a variety of poetry and artwork. Not only will the class have close readings to discuss poems, they will also participate in group discussions. These activities will guide students to comprehend on a higher level. Students will be able to choose from a variety of poems that have been read in class or at home to create a visual picture by drawing the images that come to mind as they read. Once students have used other writings to analyze, they will begin to create original works of poetry that is full of visual images and speaks figuratively. By the end of the lesson, students will have been introduced to a variety of poems and writers, create visual pictures and use the poems as inspiration to create their own poetry and artwork.

In this unit I will use poems by Emily Dickinson, Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, H.D., Tupac Shakur and William Carlos Williams. I will use these poets because their writings use visual images and the juxtaposition of color. The poems chosen for this unit all have the same theme – which is finding color or a light in a dark, undesirable place. The goal is to have students using this same theme in their writings.


Michelle Todd
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