Lesson PlansBack to lesson plans archive February 4, 2016
Personal Reflections on the Poetry of Maya Angelou – Lesson Plan
English, social studies
One 50-minute class
Middle and High School
Warm up activity
- Distribute copies of the PBS NewsHour article “Maya Angelou, Renaissance Woman, Dies at 86” to the entire class. Teachers may read the text aloud or request students read the poem independently.
- Use these questions to start a short discussion after students have read the article:
- What does it mean to be a “Renaissance woman”?
- Maya Angelou was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. How did she use poetry to deal with it?
- What were some of the challenges she probably faced as a young African American woman growing up during segregation?
- How did Maya Angelou share her talents with the world? Do you think her work changed lives? Why or why not?
- Write the sentence “On the Pulse of Morning” on the board and ask students to write down as many images that come to mind. Give them three minutes to work silently. Remind the students that there are no right or wrong answers.
- Have students share their answers with the person next to them, comparing and contrasting what they wrote with the other person. Ask each pair to pick one answer to share with the class and go around the room.
- As a class, see if there are any themes or imagery that repeatedly come up in the class’ answers. Write them on the board. Ask students to keep in mind their own answers.
- Now pass out Maya Angelou’s poem “On the Pulse of Morning” to each student.
- Play the VIDEO of Maya Angelou reciting her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” and ask students to follow along.
- Immediately after the poem is finished, ask students to individually write down any strong reactions they had to the poem.
- In pairs, ask students to share their immediate reactions to the poem and try to analyze why certain aspects of the poem triggered a reaction (could be positive or negative) in them. Did they have a connection to a word, a phrase or an image? In pairs, have students discuss their answers.
- Finally, ask students to select a phrase from the poem they felt a strong connection or reaction to and examine it. On their own, students should:
- Copy down the phrase
- Explain why they felt strongly about it
- Illustrate what the phrase looks like to them in pictures
Celebrated author, poet, artist and activist Maya Angelou passed away May 28 at the age of 86. She is known across the globe for her elegant language and passion toward civil rights.
By Katie Gould, PBS NewsHour Extra Teacher Resource Producer
The Materials You Need
Tooltip of materials
Tooltip of related stories
More Lesson Plans
Tooltip of more video block
Tooltip of RSS content 3
Study guide: Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests
Use this NewsHour Extra lesson plan to learn about the pro-democratic protests taking place in Hong Kong for the past 10 weeks. Continue readingauthoritarianismBeijingChinacivil rightscolonialismdemocracyGovernment & CivicsHong KongHong Kong airportHong Kong protestsLes MiserablesMusicmusic artsprotest musicSocial StudiesSuper Civics 2020
How public art builds community – Student Reporting Labs
Teachers with PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs created lessons on the importance of public art based on the work of SRL’s teen reporters. Check out these uplifting resources that cut across various disciplines! Continue readingartcivic engagementcivic participationELA EnglishgraffitiJournalismlesson planliberal arts and sciencesMedia LiteracymuralsPBSPDprofessional developmentpublic artSRLSTEMstudent reporting labsyouth media
Educator Voice: Why The Beatles’ message of love never fails me
Members of the Beatles, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, cross Abbey Road…Abbey RoadartsArts & Cultureback to schoolBeatleseducationEducator VoiceloveMusicmusic educationprincipalSchoolschool administrator
Learn about Toni Morrison’s life and literary legacy
Use this PBS NewsHour lesson plan to learn about the Pulitzer Prize winning author Toni Morrison who died at age 88 on Aug. 5, 2019. Continue readingAfrican AmericanartsArts & CultureBelovedbooksdiscriminationELAenglishLiteratureracismslaverySocial StudiesToni Morrison
Student Voice: How gun violence has ravaged the education experience in America
Colorado high school student Lily Wilshire shares her thoughts on gun violence in America and why she speaks for most students when she begs for people to do something. Continue readingcoloradoDaytonDayton shootingEl Paso shootingGovernment & Civicsgun controlgun safetyGunsmass shootingOhioschool shootingStudent VoiceSuper Civics 2020