Enjoy these specially prepared lesson plans from the lowcountry’s most popular instructors:

Lessons from College of Charleston English professor Matthew DeAngelis

Grade: English One (Lessons 1-3 can be applied across Middle and Secondary Grade Levels; Lessons 4-5 across all High School Levels)

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  • Poe Lesson One
    A good way to introduce some creative writing to any English classroom, this activity focuses on “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe. While not technically an Ode in format, the imagery and memory present within the poem offer a valid starting point for an Ode’s themes. I generally use this activity early in the unit.
  • Poe Lesson Two
    This is a lesson that can either be taught as one or two separate classes. Geared towards vocabulary and comparing works from contemporary authors, teachers can modify this activity for any number of purposes while remaining within the prescribed standards.
  • Poe Lesson Three
    A great way to introduce the English Sonnet, this can be adapted to incorporate most of Poe’s sonnets which are all very accessible
  • Poe Lesson Four
    Centered on “The Tell-Tale Heart,” this activity accustoms students to prewriting strategies and incorporates aspects of non-fiction, fiction, and craft into class discussion. A short writing assignment geared towards accessing or creating a character with inner turmoil.
  • The Double Alliteration Poem
    A lesson geared towards getting students familiar with the playfulness of language and the magic of experimentation in poetry, this activity allows students to create their own double alliteration poems.
  • Baldwin Activity: PDF #1 Baldwin Activity and PDF #2 Baldwin Scan
    For Grade Level: E-4 (Can be used in E-3 as well) Assignment originated in Bruce Ballenger’s Crafting Truth.
  • Didion Activity
    Grade E-4 (Can be applied throughout all high school levels).Adapted from Bruce Ballenger’s Crafting Truth
  • Scene Construction and Capote (Plus PDF Capote Text)
    Grade E-4 (Can be applied throughout High School) Adapted from Bruce Ballenger’s Crafting Truth

Matthew-DeAngelisMATTHEW DEANGELIS is an Adjunct Professor of English at the College of Charleston. He has also worked at Trident Technical College teaching sections of ENGL-110 and ENG-101, respectively. In 2012, he earned his MA in English from the College of Charleston after earning his BA in English from Flagler College in 2006. He is the Vice President of the Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts and former Editorial Assistant for the Burke Poets in Schools program. He has also served as the Assistant Editor for Crazyhorse Literary Journal. Matthew will attend the MFA program at Wichita State University in the fall of 2013. His research interests include development of a Creative Writing Pedagogy for the Composition classroom, while his writing genres include both general and experimental fiction.

Lessons from Elliott Dobson, MA

Grade: English 1 (can be applied all through high school levels). Click on any of the files below to download:

  • Komunyakaa-Lin Lesson One
    Compare the creative processes and goals of poet Yusef Komunyakaa in his poem “Facing It” and architect Maya Lin’s memorial to Vietnam Veterans to discuss poetry and architecture as dialogues, celebrations, and confrontations. This lesson can stand alone or be the foundation for a two part lesson with “Komunyakaa Lesson Two.” (Complies with 9 different standards.)
  • Komunyakaa-Lin Lesson Two
    Komunyakaa Lesson Two is a multi-sensory lesson building on work and learning done in “Komunyakaa Lesson One Standards.” A video interview of poet Yusef Komunyakaa helps students correlate his artistic advice to young writers with Maya Lin’s creative process for the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Students use elements of Komunyakaa’s advice and Lin’s process to create their own memorial and poem. (Memorial and poem commemorate an event or special remembrance personal to each writer.) (Complies with 6 different standards.)
  • Margarita Engle’s The Surrender Tree Lesson Three
    Students learn about narrative poetry, poetry as a novel or memoir, and how poets can incorporate historical events into their work. Students create a their own narrative poems, which together fabricate the basic structure of a novel. Instructors can encourage students to work together or as individuals. This lesson can be the beginning of a larger project which, again, can be accomplished either individually or in groups. (Complies with 10 different standards.)
  • 100 Word Fiction Lesson Four
    Students learn about irony and “myth as story” through the short short fiction genre, creating a complete story in 100 words. (Complies with 12 different standards.)
  • Mohja Kahf Inspired Free Verse
    Students will learn about free verse poetry, the concept of “the other” in literature and literary criticism, and poetry/literature as a discussion of cultural divisions. To upgrade this lesson to AP English or first year college level, add reading from Edward Said’s Orientalism, or present this video presentation of Said’s work. It includes an interview with Professor Said. Video found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwCOSkXR_Cw. (Basic lesson complies with 16 different standards.)

ELLIOTT DOBSON received a BA in Art from Mercer University in 1988 and spent many years as a working artist. Eventually, an interest in the commonalities of art and physics prompted a return to academics. Scientific intentions took a turn, however, when she realized she frequently found herself referring to unstable quantum particles as ruthless fictional characters from classic novels. Given such tendencies, and the fact that none of her physics professors approved of the Undine Spragg particle, the only course of action was to go to graduate school in English studies. She obtained an MA in English from the College of Charleston and the Citadel, jointly. Elliott has worked with Crazyhorse Literary Journal and served as assistant director for the regional 2012 Poetry OutLoud competition. Her teaching interests include college level composition and academic writing with a focus on transfer theory. Elliott’s research interests include creative writing programs and workshops for military veterans with PTSD, and Appalachian Studies.

Lessons from Jonathan Sanchez

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Lessons from SC Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth

Grade Level: 3-5 Elementary School. Click on any of the files below to download:

  • Metaphor, Simile. Line Breaks
    This is an excellent writing exercise for beginners. It can be even be built around a topic — animals or seasons for example. I have used this exercise with beginning poets of all ages and it essentially creates an automatic poem. Making columns, lists of words, and building sentences out of metaphor and similes helps demystify the process and seems easy to those intimidated by the writing process. It is then easy to create the poem and teach line breaks in the process.
  • Poetry of Place
    Students will utilize various poetic devices including lists, line breaks, syllabics, imagery, specific image detail, voice, and the 5 senses to create poems related to place. In this workshop we study two poems in particular:  “Knoxville, Tennessee” by Nikki Giovanni and “Nantucket” by William Carlos Williams. With older students I also use the poem I also use the poem “Coming Home, Detroit, 1968” by Philip Levine. These poems are distinctly different in form, style and tone, but they are easy to imitate. We discuss the differences . We will also discuss the poetic devices that all three poets use successfully.  Students always have a favorite place; it can something as small as a tree house or as big as Carowinds.
  • Writing Odes Exercise
    I love introducing students to Pablo Neruda’s poetry. His odes are particularly well suited to children, whether it’s a poem about socks or French Fries. It’s important for students to understand that poetry is often about very ordinary things and the impulse of a poem is to concentrate on the inherent wonder of all things in the world. Reading Neruda also helps free the imagination.  Students love the warm-up phase of this exercise when we call out metaphors. It allows them to be silly and have fun, and this is such a great way to engage them on all levels. This is also a fun poem to do in groups.
  • Writing a Persona Poem/SC History Civil War, Shackles
    This exercise is designed for use in the third grade classroom, because that’s when SC history is covered. It is built around my children’s book Shackles, which is a gentle way to introduce the subject of slavery and South Carolina’s role in the slave trade. It combines history, social studies, and geography with writing poetry.  Charleston Country Schools has created an integrated unit inspire by Shackles, called Exploring SOUTH CAROLINA and the CIVIL WAR Through Social Studies, Visual art, and Poetry, which is available upon request.  Ideally students begin reading the story and then visit Sullivan’s Island, the place where the story takes place. They learn about the pest houses where hundreds of thousands of slaves were held in quarantine and the Middle Passage.  I have a power point presentation with this information as well. Two hour classroom visits are sufficient for the person poem writing exercise.

Marjory-WentworthMARJORY WENTWORTH’s poems have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize five times. Her books of poetry include Noticing Eden, Despite Gravity, and The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle.  She is the co-writer with Juan Mendez of Taking a Stand, The Evolution of Human Rights, co-editor with Kwame Dawes of Seeking, Poetry and Prose inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green, and the author of the prizewinning children’s story Shackles. Marjory teaches at The Art Institute of Charleston.  Her work is included in the South Carolina Poetry Archives at Furman University.  She is the Poet Laureate of South Carolina.

Marjory Wentworth has taught poetry at hundreds of schools throughout SC as an artist-in-residence. She also taught Creative Writing to middle school and high school students at The Charleston County School of the Arts, as well as Burke High School.  She is on the artist in residence roster for the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department and does in school residencies for Charleston County School’s Engaging Creative Minds Program; this year she created a unit for fifth grade classrooms tied to social studies standards that is based on war poetry.

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