Emily Dickinson
Lesson plans and teaching resources

|Biography and Background| |Collections of Poems and Criticism| |Lessons on Specific Poems|

Biography and Background

Analyzing the Poetry of Emily Dickinson
Students examine ways in which life events of a poet influence the poetry written. After researching Emily Dickinson's biography, students analyze her poetry and present a collage depicting one poem. The lesson is designed for grades 9 and 10 and can be easily adapted to the study of many other poets.

The Classroom Electric: Dickinson, Whitman, & American Culture
Links at this site vary in content from background to lesson plans, but all are outstanding. Look for an exploration of Dickinson's revision process, an examination of her letters to critic Thomas Higginson, and sites about her sense of place and attitude toward slavery.

Deep Impact: Considering Personal Connections to Writers and Artists
In this lesson, students identify and investigate a writer or other artist with whom they feel a strong connection and express their relationship with this person, his or her life and works in writing. This lesson uses Dickinson as an example and can be adapted to other writers.

Emily Dickinson's Letters
An article published in The Atlantic by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, the critic ED corresponded with for a number of years. Includes the text of some letters and poetry.

Emily Dickinson's Poetry
This video (10:10), narrated by John Green as part of his Crash Course in Literature, serves as a good introduction to Dickinson's poetry. It specifically mentions "Faith is a Fine Invention," "I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died" (which gets special emphasis), and "Before I got my Eye Put Out."

The Life and Poems of Emily Dickinson
Students study Dickinson's life and its influence on her poetry.

Reflections on a Visit to Emily Dickinson's Grave
The narrator in this YouTube video finds a note under a rock on Emily Dickinson's headstone. Creative writing prompt: what circumstances led to the writing of the note and what does it say?

Collections of Poems and Criticism

The Complete Poems
Searchable or browsable by theme, this site has 597 of Dickinson's poems.

Dickinson Electronic Archives
Writing, criticism, teaching resources, and responses to Dickinson.

Emily Dickinson
Online literary criticism from the Internet Public Library.

Emily Dickinson: An Overview
Insightful commentary with links to analyses of specific poems.

Poems by Emily Dickinson
The poems at this site are organized by topic: life, love, nature, and time and eternity.

Repeat After Us
Audio files of several Dickinson poems. A good site for LD students, ELL students, and for those who read well and might like to record and contribute. Files are in alphabetical order by poet; scroll down.

Wired for Books
Audio files of poems read by Laura Lee Parrotti. RealPlayer required for access; page includes a link to the site.

Lessons on Specific Poems

Analyzing the Poetry of Emily DickinsonAfter researching Emily Dickinson's biography, students analyze her poetry and present a collage depicting one poem.

Before I Got My Eye Put Out — The Poetry of Emily Dickinson
Author John Green offers analysis and commentary in a manner designed to engage both students and teachers. He pays special attention to "I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died." YouTube video, 10:11, downloadable.

Teacher Guide to "Because I Could Not Stop for Death"
How might students use storyboards to demonstrate and to extend their learning? Check the resources here. Includes discussion of personification, alliteration, end rhyme, and symbolism. Also includes discussion of TP-CASTT approach for analysis. Note: Storyboard That helps sponsor this site.

"Because I could not stop for Death" vocabulary
15 words presented in context and with definitions. Click on a word for pronunciation, examples of recent use, more.

Emily Dickinson
Questions to help students study a body of Dickinson's poetry from Perspectives on American Literature.

Guidelines for Reading Dickinson's Poetry
Thirteen questions to consider when reading Dickinson's poetry.

"Hope is the Thing with Feather"
Scroll down to find the audio file of an introduction and playwright David Henry Hwang reading the poem.

"I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died"
Scroll down to find the audio file of former Poet Laureate Kay Ryan reading the poem.

I started Early Took my Dog (656)
Text of the poem, teaching tips, discussion questions, and writing ideas.

"It was not death, for I stood up"
Text of the poem. Click on "Poem Guide" for critical commentary.

Serendipitous Personification for Poems
Students read Dickinson's "I like to see it lap the miles" and Joyce Kilmer's "Trees" (copies available on the site). They use those poems as mentor texts to write poems of their own that use personification.

"The Soul Selects her own Society"
Hypertext of the poem. Links provide pop-up support for close reading.

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