- Historical Items (1377)
- Tax Records (0)
- Architecture & Landscape (16)
- Online Exhibits (70)
- Site Pages (126)
- My Maine Stories (42)
- Lesson Plans (3)
Your results include these lesson plans. Your results include these lesson plans.
Grade Level: 9-12
Content Area: Social Studies
As a graduate of Bowdoin College and a longtime resident of Brunswick, I have a distinct interest in Longfellow. Yet the history of Brunswick includes other famous writers as well, including Harriet Beecher Stowe. Although they did not reside in Brunswick contemporaneously, and Longfellow was already world-renowned before Stowe began her literary career, did these two notables have any interaction? More particularly, did Longfellow have any opinion of Stowe's work? If so, what was it?
Grade Level: 6-8, 9-12
Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was truly a man of his time and of his nation; this native of Portland, Maine and graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine became an American icon. Lines from his poems intersperse our daily speech and the characters of his long narrative poems have become part of American myth. Longfellow's fame was international; scholars, politicians, heads-of-state and everyday people read and memorized his poems. Our goal is to show that just as Longfellow reacted to and participated in his times, so his poetry participated in shaping and defining American culture and literature. The following unit plan introduces and demonstrates an American Studies approach to the life and work of Longfellow. Because the collaborative work that forms the basis for this unit was partially responsible for leading the two of us to complete the American & New England Studies Masters program at University of Southern Maine, we returned there for a working definition of "American Studies approach" as it applies to the grade level classroom. Joe Conforti, who was director at the time we both went through the program, offered some useful clarifying comments and explanation. He reminded us that such a focus provides a holistic approach to the life and work of an author. It sets a work of literature in a broad cultural and historical context as well as in the context of the poet's life. The aim of an American Studies approach is to "broaden the context of a work to illuminate the American past" (Conforti) for your students. We have found this approach to have multiple benefits at the classroom and research level. It brings the poems and the poet alive for students and connects with other curricular work, especially social studies. When linked with a Maine history unit, it helps to place Portland and Maine in an historical and cultural context. It also provides an inviting atmosphere for the in-depth study of the mechanics of Longfellow's poetry. What follows is a set of lesson plans that form a unit of study. The biographical "anchor" that we have used for this unit is an out-of-print biography An American Bard: The story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, by Ruth Langland Holberg, Thomas Y. Crowell & Company, c1963. Permission has been requested to make this work available as a downloadable file off this web page, but in the meantime, used copies are readily and cheaply available from various vendors. The poem we have chosen to demonstrate our approach is "Paul Revere's Ride." The worksheets were developed by Judy Donahue, the explanatory essays researched and written by the two of us, and our sources are cited below. We have also included a list of helpful links. When possible we have included helpful material in text format, or have supplied site links. Our complete unit includes other Longfellow poems with the same approach, but in the interest of time and space, they are not included. Please feel free to contact us with questions and comments.
Grade Level: 9-12
Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
Most if not all of us have or will need to work in the American marketplace for at least six decades of our lives. There's a saying that I remember a superintendent telling a group of graduating high-school seniors: remember, when you are on your deathbed, you will not be saying that you wish you had spent more time "at the office." But Americans do spend a lot more time working each year than nearly any other people on the planet. By the end of our careers, many of us will have spent more time with our co-workers than with our families. Already in the 21st century, much has been written about the "Wal-Martization" of the American workplace, about how, despite rocketing profits, corporations such as Wal-Mart overwork and underpay their employees, how workers' wages have remained stagnant since the 1970s, while the costs of college education and health insurance have risen out of reach for many citizens. It's become a cliché to say that the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" is widening to an alarming degree. In his book Wealth and Democracy, Kevin Phillips says we are dangerously close to becoming a plutocracy in which one dollar equals one vote. Such clashes between employers and employees, and between our rhetoric of equality of opportunity and the reality of our working lives, are not new in America. With the onset of the industrial revolution in the first half of the nineteenth century, many workers were displaced from their traditional means of employment, as the country shifted from a farm-based, agrarian economy toward an urban, manufacturing-centered one. In cities such as New York, groups of "workingmen" (early manifestations of unions) protested, sometimes violently, unsatisfactory labor conditions. Labor unions remain a controversial political presence in America today. Longfellow and Whitman both wrote with sympathy about the American worker, although their respective portraits are strikingly different, and worth juxtaposing. Longfellow's poem "The Village Blacksmith" is one of his most famous and beloved visions: in this poem, one blacksmith epitomizes characteristics and values which many of Longfellow's readers, then and now, revere as "American" traits. Whitman's canto (a section of a long poem) 15 from "Song of Myself," however, presents many different "identities" of the American worker, representing the entire social spectrum, from the crew of a fish smack to the president (I must add that Whitman's entire "Song of Myself" is actually 52 cantos in length). I do not pretend to offer these single texts as all-encompassing of the respective poets' ideas about workers, but these poems offer a starting place for comparison and contrast. We know that Longfellow was the most popular American poet of the nineteenth century, just as we know that Whitman came to be one of the most controversial. Read more widely in the work of both poets and decide for yourselves which poet speaks to you more meaningfully and why.