TeachersFirst “Interactive Raven” Gives Spooky Poetry Lessons

Teachers will try any trick to engage their students with poetry, and Halloween provides just such a hook. For more than a decade, teachers have combined the ghostly holiday with The Interactive Raven at TeachersFirst.com to introduce their students to Edgar Allen Poe ‘s eerie classic “The Raven.”

During the past year, students and teachers visited this free, interactive lesson at www.teachersfirst.com/lessons/raven more than 2.1 million times.

The Interactive Raven shares Poe’s poem stanza by stanza, but it also involves readers by color and click. Viewers see poetic devices in color. A mouseover or click on the text reveals meanings of archaic words, explains poetic devices, and helps students understand what might otherwise be incomprehensible.

poetry lessons

Why do more teachers use The Interactive Raven each year? Candace Hackett Shively , Director of K-12 Initiatives for TeachersFirst’s publisher, The Source for Learning, says The Interactive Raven “hits kids where they are. The presentation is personal, visual, and interactive—and that’s the world today’s kids live in. They can work through the stanzas at their own pace, and the current version is mobile-friendly, so they can even work hands-on with ‘The Raven’ on their smartphones. Parents are using it, too, to help their kids enjoy poetry.”

Ms. Shively notes that this treatment “doesn’t detract from the poem’s richness—there’s no illustration, so kids are left to conjure mental images from Poe’s words. There is no narration, so they imagine how it may sound—or speak it themselves. They can touch and feel and hear as they read, and that’s what poetry is all about.”

The Interactive Raven also fits into the new Common Core standards. Poe’s poem is cited as a Grade 9-10 “exemplar” for the level of text complexity that students should be able to analyze, compare, and write about. The standards also require that elementary and middle grades understand and work with poetic elements such as metaphor, simile, rhythm, meter, and theme, all of which are visible and clickable in The Interactive Raven.  Small wonder, then, that teachers use The Interactive Raven at many grade levels. One teacher told TeachersFirst it’s the best way he has found to help his special education students take on the unfamiliar world of poetry.

The Interactive Raven’s sister site, The Interactive Highwayman, provides a similar treatment using Alfred Noyes ‘ famous poem about a mysterious nighttime rider. Like “The Raven,” “The Highwayman” is part of many curricula. The interactive version can be seen atwww.teachersfirst.com/lessons/highwayman.

TeachersFirst (www.teachersfirst.com) is a free, online resource for K-12 teachers, offering original content and teacher-authored reviews of more than 15,000 web resources and tools suitable for use in the classroom. For more information, contact TeachersFirst at teachersfirst@sflinc.org.

TeachersFirst’s publisher, The Source for Learning (www.sourceforlearning.org), is a non-profit learning technologies corporation based in Reston, VA. The Source for Learning also publishes GrowUpLearning.comPreschoolFirst.comTeachersAndFamilies.com, and SFLMedia.com.

Source: Press Release