new column in which teachers can share their successful lessons,
techniques and insights about their work. Email: email@example.com
or fax 212-481-3919. State your school affiliation.
Studies Through Poetry
Ken Siegelman was a social studies teacher in Brooklyn for 29
years. He found that one of the best ways to teach children is
to take an inter-disciplinary approach and tap into their “innate
creativity and imaginative ability.” Accordingly, Siegelman started
teaching “Social Studies through Poetry,” writing and using poems
in his classroom to enhance his students’ critical thinking. He
wrote several volumes of poems which centered on historical events.
“Children are automatically placed inside the very personal environment
of the poem,” he says. “By identifying the persona inside the
poem, they are able to touch base with the emotional state and
philosophical beliefs of that voice.”
After each poem, Siegelman includes analytical questions for students
exploring the themes of the poem. He found that when used in conjunction
with a good textbook and primary sources, his poetry method sparked
class discussions and arguments.
becomes an expression of living people through the poem,” he explains.
these Southern roads
like a battlefield
fallow-since the civil war.
branches shadow skeletons
the eerie quiet
soil sponges to my sneakers
a mattress left to rot;
squeezing on so many
field of long grass
beyond the jungle pines
alive and dead
a shark’s dumb stare
in a silhouette.
stands dead center in the grass
the sun of fire
the panic of a man
to the motel
the neon sign
the night against my
like an early memory
Americans from different regions and sections share distinct customs
and cultures. Moreover, the experiences of rural Americans and
urban Americans are also likely to have very different ideas and
impressions on what they see and interpret as they travel through
1. Do you think you would share the feelings of this traveler
in the southern woods? Explain.
2. Do you feel that his fears are influenced by his northern urban
upbringing? Do you think southern woodsmen would equally be uneasy
in a northern city?
3. The poem’s title is Strange Places. How might you argue
that the motel/trucker’s stop is also a rather strange place?
4. What makes places seem strange? Explain.
information about Mr. Siegelman’s poems, collected in American
Imprints, contact him at 2225 W Fifth St. Brooklyn, NY 11223.
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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the publisher. © 2001.