This is our catalog of courses. We will occasionally adjust the course listing to reflect the addition of new courses and the retirement of others. 

Recorded HS
How to Read a Poem

Poetry is not a secret code! In this six-part self-guided course, we’ll demystify the process of reading poetry, learn some useful terms to help us read, and get an inside view by applying what we learn in informal poetry-writing exercises. You can read and enjoy poetry — maybe you’ll discover your inner poet as well!

Total classes: 6

Duration per class: 55 minutes

Prerequisite: None

Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th grade

Suggested credit: ½ semester Poetry or Literature for high school. For a full semester, take the Introduction to Metrical Forms OR Introduction to Stanza Forms courses which are meant to follow this one. (Sept. 2023: Metrical Forms and Stanza Forms are both in development; Metrical Forms will be available later this semester, while Stanza Forms will be available in the spring of 2024). 


This six-week course will cover definitions of poetry, the reading process, basics of poetic meter, recognition of rhyme schemes, and functions of figurative language as it illuminates meaning. Students will emerge as better close-readers, of poetry but also of any literary form. This basic, introductory-level course may provide a springboard to any other literature course, or augment a class taken concurrently.


Week 1: How to Read a Poem: Introduction
Week 2: The Poetic Line
Week 3: Meter
Week 4: Rhyme Schemes
Week 5: Figurative Language
Week 6: Close Reading

Materials and Homework

Course materials: Handouts provided FREE by the instructor.

Homework: Homework will consist of five poems per week, to be read ideally one per weekday, carefully, with attention, multiple times, with written notes on each poem to be submitted weekly.

For honors credit, a student might choose one set of notes at the three-week mark to turn into an essay of 300-500 words, preferably handwritten, double-spaced (every other line of a piece of notebook paper, front only), and neatly presented to show the parent instructor. 300-500 words comes to roughly four handwritten pages, depending on how big your handwriting is. 

Some weeks will include an optional extra reading for students who desire honors credit. A parent may require this reading at his/her discretion, depending on how heavy the student’s courseload already is. I would recommend these readings for older, advanced high-school students, not because of any content concerns, but simply because they’re a bit demanding. But they are an option for extra rigor, if both the parent and the student desire to go this route. 

There will also be a weekly reading quiz, and a short, optional poetry-writing exercise that may take the place of notes on one homework poem of the student’s choice. The student does still need to read that poem with careful attention!  Students should budget an hour a day, five days a week, inclusive of written work and quizzes, to complete this course for a half-semester of high-school credit.

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