Lesson Plan

Teach This Poem: "The Shapes of Leaves" by Arthur Sze

Arthur Sze's poem, "The Shapes of Leaves," encourages young scholars to notice and speak for others who "do not speak." The lesson begins with pupils writing about a tree that they really like. The class then examines an image of clear-cutting and record how the image makes them feel. After a close reading of Sze's poem, the whole class discussion focuses on what it means to "be on the edge of a new leaf."

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Instructional Ideas
  • The teacher resource listed in the Included Materials section below provides instructors with details of the pedagogy behind the noticing approach used in the "Teach This Poem" series
  • Use during April's Poetry Month
  • Have the class brainstorm all the ways emotions are like leaves
  • Begin the lesson by showing a time-lapse video of tress leafing in the spring
Classroom Considerations
  • Part of the Academy of American Poets "Teach This Poem" series
  • Younger learners may need additional scaffolding to make the connections between the speaker's anger and clearcutting
  • The plan includes step-by-step directions, discussion questions, and a link to another lesson for Sze's poem designed for Nation Poetry Month
  • None