Walt Whitman's Song of Myself Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Introduce students to the structure, themes and interpretations of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself with this lesson plan. A video lesson guides students through a summary and support with structure.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • discuss Walt Whitman and his role in American poetry
  • explain the structure of the poem 'Song of Myself'
  • name and explain themes in 'Song of Myself'


1 - 1.5 hours


Key Vocabulary

  • Free verse
  • Long lines
  • Lists
  • Anaphora
  • Transcendentalism

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.5

Analyze how a drama's or poem's form or structure (e.g., soliloquy, sonnet) contributes to its meaning.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.1

Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.2

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.

Warm-Up and Preparation

  • Tell students you will be reading and learning about a poem by Walt Whitman called 'Song of Myself.'
  • Divide students into small groups and have them first discuss what they think the poem will be about, sharing ideas as a whole group.
  • Now start the lesson video Song of Myself by Walt Whitman: Summary, Theme & Analysis and pause at 1:41. Ask:
    • What topics will this poem address?
    • Why was this poem important?
    • What does it mean to have differing viewpoints and personas?
  • Remind students that some themes and content in the poem will be mature and review your behavior expectations.

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