New for April at EDSITEment
Shelley NiTuama | April 12, 2011
This spring, EDSITEment has assembled a garland of new multimedia resources to enhance our poetry lessons for readers and students to hear the poetry and experience the power of some of America’s most celebrated original voices in the hope they will emulate them by writing their own American originals.
A poem … begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion finds the thought and the thought finds the words.—Robert Frost
Frost shares center stage with several other American poets in EDSITEment’s new April feature in celebration of National Poetry Month: The Power of Poetry. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s inauguration, and EDSITEment remembers Robert Frost’s historic recitation of “The Gift Outright”—the first time a poet was called upon to speak at such an event. The EDSITEment-reviewed Academy of American Poets’ Poetry and Power: Robert Frost’s Inaugural Reading details the little known backstory of this 1961 dedication. EDSITEment’s Presidential Inaugurations: A Capital Parade on a Cold Winter’s Day discusses Frost’s inspiration for the original poem he wrote for this occasion, “Dedication” available through the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress. Afterward, Frost gave the President the following advice: “Be more Irish than Harvard. Poetry and power is the formula for another Augustan Age. Don’t be afraid of power.” To which Kennedy quipped on the bottom of his thank-you letter, “It’s poetry and power all the way!”
Also new from EDSITEment in honor of Poetry Month, we introduce Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: The First Great Latin American Poet (two lessons):
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648?–1695) was the first great Latin American poet who lived during the Colonial and Viceregal periods in Mexico City. Published during her lifetime, she was recognized as the premiere baroque poet of the New World in the entire Spanish-speaking world of the time. She also wrote the first document defending intellectual freedom and the right to an education for women in this hemisphere. EDSITEment salutes this illustrious woman and poet, featuring a new bilingual lesson plan studying closely her sonnets, as part of an academic unit. The lesson plan includes an interactive timeline of her life (in English), worksheets to analyze her work (in Spanish), as well as two exciting interactives that allow students to learn more about her life and poetry, including a sonnet unscramber and an interactive analysis of her habit, “What is Sor Juana Wearing?”
On a more somber note, EDSITEment and NEH join the nation in commemorating the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War with the first shots fired at Fort Sumter April 12, 1861. EDSITEment has prepared a new feature on The American Civil War that provides context and multiple resources to understand the background leading up to this most traumatic event in American history. EDSITEment has also prepared a new companion piece the Literature of the Civil War that encompasses the treatment of the war in literature as well as first-hand accounts including slave narrative and diaries of women who witnessed it firsthand. Both serve as excellent supplements to viewers of the PBS rebroadcast this week of the NEH award winning film by Ken Burns, The Civil War.
Finally, we mustn’t forget that April is also Jazz Appreciation Month, and EDSITEment has put the spotlight on hot new resources and ideas for classrooms based on this year’s theme.
Now in its eleventh year, EDSITEment is a partnership among the National Endowment for the Humanities, Verizon Foundation’s Thinkfinity, and the National Trust for the Humanities. This free-access, user-friendly website showcases more than 300 top humanities sites that have been identified and reviewed for content, design, and educational impact in fields such as social studies, history, literature, foreign languages, art, and culture. EDSITEment also creates grade-specific lesson plans that incorporate online resources, original source materials, and interactive learning activities, games, and quizzes for use by K–12 teachers and students. Find out why the American Association of School Librarians selected EDSITEment as one the 25 Top Website for Teaching and Learning for 2010.
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Shelley NiTuama is EDSITEment Program Specialist for the National Endowment for the Humanities; she has an MLIS and ten years of professional experience in public and school libraries.