Teach This Poem: "Election Day, November, 1884" by Walt Whitman

To begin a study of Walt Whitman's poem, "Election Day, November 1884," learners first call out a word or two that describes their reaction to the recent presidential election. They then read an encyclopedia entry about the Presidential Election of 1884, recording the most interesting things they notice in the entry. Next, the class reads Whitman's poem and compares it to what they learned from the encyclopedia entry. After discussing how the 1884 election was similar to or different from the most recent election, individuals craft a paragraph or poem that includes their reaction to and questions they may have about the recent election.

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Instructional Ideas
  • Rather than having class members record their reactions to the 2016 presidential election, have pupils record their reactions to the most recent election
  • Direct reader's attention to how the author's purpose influences the language used and tone of the poem and the encyclopedia entry
Classroom Considerations
  • Caution pupils to use appropriate language when describing their reaction to the election
Pros
  • The activity redirects attention to the ideals of the American government
Cons
  • None