Day 1

Day 1 Description

Day 1 of “Expanding the Atlantic” consists of an optional warm-up writing activity asking students to think about how history can influence literature, a review of key literary terms that will be used to analyze poems later in the lesson, Part 1 of 2 of a short history lesson on the Caribbean, an annotated handout of Derek Walcott’s “The Sea is History” and materials for a guided practice analysis, and an optional “exit ticket” activity to check for understanding at the conclusion of the lesson.

Before teaching the lesson, the teacher should download all the materials below and make copies as necessary. Note that the “guided notes” that accompany the PowerPoint presentation are not required.

Expected lesson time: 90 minutes.

Essential Questions

  1. How has the violent history of the Caribbean influenced its contemporary representation in art and literature?
  2. How do poets use literary techniques such as metaphor, imagery, diction, and allusion to convey a message or theme?

Learning Goals

  1. Review literary terms in preparation for poetry analysis.
  2. Acquire knowledge about Caribbean history and the transatlantic slave trade.
  3. Analyze a text for literary techniques and themes.


  1. Warm-up
    For a warm-up, students respond to the following question: How can history influence literature? Think of at least 1 example to support your ideas. Note: Students may answer question on their own paper, on the space provided on the guided notes, or in warm-up journals (if used in classroom).After students complete the writing activity, the teacher will invite or cold-call on students to share their responses. After hearing several students’ opinions, teacher will introduce the new unit on Caribbean poetry.
  2. Literary Terms Review (see “Literary Terms Dictionary” below)
    Teacher will distribute literary terms dictionary handout (optional) or instruct students to take notes as necessary in their notebooks. The teacher will inform students that the following literary terms will be important over the next several days as they analyze and discuss poetry as a class.
  3. Caribbean History: Part 1
    Teacher will then present the information in the slides for Caribbean history. Students will take notes on the guided notes handout or on their own paper as directed by the teacher. The teacher will answer questions as necessary.
  4. Analysis of two Derek Walcott poems
    Teacher will then lead students through an analysis of Derek Walcott’s “The Sea is History,” prompting them to use the vocabulary reviewed earlier in the lesson. Some questions the teacher might pose are:
  • What strikes you about this poem? What is it about or what is it’s “plot”?
  • What are the most important words (diction) in the poem? What effect do they have on you as a reader?
  • What imagery strikes you? What effect does it have?
  • What is the subject of the poem? What is the author’s attitude (tone) toward the subject of the poem?
  • How is the Caribbean portrayed in this poem?
  • How does the poem interact with the history we learned earlier in class?If the teacher has a digital projector, it would be great to project the poem on the board and annotate the text along with the students. Depending on the skill set of the class, the teacher could also encourage students to discuss the poem first in small groups and then invite them to annotate the text in front of the class. In either case, the teacher should inform the students that the expectation is for “your paper to look like my paper,” that is, they are expected to record all annotations the teacher or other students make on their own papers.

Additionally, the annotated handout of the poem prompts the teacher and students to consider questions as they read the passage together.

5. Exit ticket
On a scrap piece of paper, students should answer ONE of the following questions as a way for the teacher to check for understanding of the lesson:

  • What is the “Middle Passage?” Describe it.
  • Define the literary term “imagery” and give 1 example from one of the poems we read today.



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How to cite these resources: “’Expanding the Atlantic’ for World Literature Classrooms,” written and designed by Savannah Windham, The Black Atlantic Pages, The Black Atlantic Blog, Duke University, (accessed on (date)). – See more at:

One thought on “Day 1”

  1. Such detachment of art from society caused the counter-reaction from the shape of the adventuresome movements. Avant-garde originated from the domain of Modernism, however was a type of this protesting gesture against it. Modernism, driven by the notion of the autonomy of art, has significantly transformed its norms, yet it hasn’t evolved into the critics of this institution of art itself, also, generally speaking, did not break up with all the tradition, employing classical genre system and subjects.

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