To begin, here are a few excerpts from the project’s assignment sheet:

Assignment: You have been commissioned by the National Endowment for the Humanities to compose a lesson plan for AP Language and Composition on a single modern American poem…. Your lesson plan must be divided into the following sections: (1) Introduction, (2) Learning Objectives (at least three), (3) Lesson Activities (at least two), and (4) Research Reflection. The Introduction and Research Reflection must contain a minimum of 1500 words of prose combined. This project requires at least five sources: one exhibit (the poem under study), one visual, and three additional sources.

Audience: Your primary audience is the teacher of the class described above, though you must also consider the students (high school seniors). This combined audience has read, though not yet closely read the poem. You can assume this group’s knowledge of our basic glossary of poetry terms, but you cannot assume their knowledge of any additional source material.

Use the following critical questions to help guide your poem analysis and project composition: (1) How does your chosen exhibit reflect and engage with specific cultural or philosophical issues of the modern era? (2) Based on your responses above, what are your central interpretive claims regarding the poem? (3) What source material is instrumental to teaching this interpretation?

This project can be used most effectively as a second or mid-semester project to introduce students to the research process, and to build upon skills of analysis and argument reviewed and learned for a first project. We can teach students how to conduct exploratory and focused research independently, and how to draw upon a wider range of sources (in this case background and theory) to achieve their rhetorical purpose. This project also transitions students to a new genre for a new audience with a visual component, highlighting how a new context calls for different kinds of argument, research, and prose style.

Finally, this project includes a meta-cognitive reflection for both students and teachers, as teaching a lesson plan is also a wonderful reminder for how we can design effective ones (with objectives that are student-centered and observable) for a single class or an entire unit.

WR 150: Writing, Research, & Inquiry