Tag Archives: art

Topics for #ResearchPapers: #Artists List for #Teachers @ EnglishEmporium.WordPress.com

Image of a scanned list of artists and painters in alphabetical order.

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When I was a brand-new English teacher, I used to wonder what topics to use for research papers. The first time I tried teaching research papers, I let the students choose their own topics. Ha ha ha! Sure, I got some great research papers on skateboarding and Minecraft, but I also got some real duds.

One kid even did a so-called research paper on cow manure, just so he had an excuse to use the “sh” word in class when quoting local dairymen he had interviewed!

Kids can be soooo creative that way.

To help anyone who’s struggling with research papers, I’m going to post lists of possible research topics over the next few months. Today I’m starting with artists. Next I’ll post a list of inventors. And at the end of this series of blog posts, I’ll make a list of medieval research topics available to you.

I should also point out that English Emporium already has a ton of stuff on research papers available for you to download and print, including:

Hopefully there’s something useful in that stack of stuff I’ve used over the 23 years that I worked as an English teacher. If you like my free, printable worksheets, lesson plans, and activities, please show your appreciation by pinning these on Pinterest, tweeting about them, and/or sharing them through other social media. Just be sure to mention where you found them!


I have a ton of questions about poetry. Can you answer any of them for me?


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how many stanzas are allowed in a poem?

Image: iClipart

When we started reading poetry, the teacher asked you to write down three questions you still have about poetry. Did she answer those questions for you? If you can find the answer to those questions in your notes, please do the following:

  • repeat the question you asked
  • answer the question using complete sentences

If she didn’t answer those questions over the course of our class, please do the following instead:

  • repeat your question
  • google your question and search the web for an answer
  • summarize what you’ve learned in two to four sentences (do not copy/paste someone else’s words)
  • copy/paste a link to the website(s) where you found the information

Here’s an example of the former (i.e. you asked about something we did learn in class):

  1. My question was, “What type of poems did Shakespeare write?”
  2. According to my notes, William Shakespeare wrote sonnets. A sonnet usually has fourteen rhyming lines that follow a certain rhyme scheme.

Here’s an example of the latter (i.e. something you didn’t learn the answer to during our class):

  1. I’m going to answer the question, “Are American poets better than British poets?”
  2. According to Prof. Brander Matthews of Columbia University (who wrote an article for The New York Times), if you compare 19th Century American poets to 19th Century British poets, there are MORE British than American poets. However, he also thought certain American poems, like “The Night Before Christmas” have greater popularity world-wide. So to summarize, there’s more poetry available from British poets, but it isn’t necessarily better than American poetry.
  3. I found this article at this link to The New York Times: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F20F12F7345813738DDDA80894DA415B828DF1D3

Poetry that withstands the test of time… Tick-tock-tick-tock.*


If you want to see what our discussions are all about, click here.

what makes a poem a "classic"?

Image: iClipart

Some poets were so moving, so talented, so… [fill in the blank], that their poetry withstood the test of time. It seems like the poetry that lasts the longest seems to be capable of bridging generation gaps. Even in this age of technology, we still mourn the passing of great world leaders, and that’s why Walt Whitman’s poem “O Captain! My Captain!” still moves people today, even though Abraham Lincoln’s assassination is long behind us.

You’ve been studying a particular poet. What made his/her poems stand the test of time? What themes in their poetry are still relevant today? What images appear in their poems that still seem meaningful to modern-day readers?

Write a paragraph in which you a.) state which poet you’ve been studying, and b.) offer several sentences (with at least one useful quotation from his/her poetry) explaining why your poet has endured the test of time. Here’s an example:

I’ve been reading the poems of Robert Browning, and my favorite of his poems is “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”. In this poem, the town of Hamelin is infested with vermin: “Rats!/They fought the dogs and killed the cats,/And bit the babies in the cradles,/And ate the cheeses out of the vats…” Even in the twenty-first century, the idea of a rat biting a baby makes people cringe. With all of our technology today–cell phones and plastic, pharmaceuticals and space travel–we continue to share our planet with vermin, so Browning’s theme is still one everybody understands. No one wants to share their living space with a rodent, and in my opinion, that’s why “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” has withstood the test of time.

*For extra credit, what poetic device is “Tick-tock-tick-tock”? You must be the first to offer the right answer, spelling your response correctly.

Ralph Upchuck writes poetry… but not very well!


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free sample essay with problems to discuss in an English classroom lesson plan

Image: iClipart

The following is an essay written about the fictional poet, Ralph Upchuck. Take a look at the essay’s study of Ralph’s poetry and critique it (i.e. tell what’s wrong with/what’s good about the essay). List four things you find problematic. List one thing the writer does well. You’ll need to read through all of your classmates’ comments as well, because you’re not allowed to repeat anyone else’s ideas.

The Poetry of Ralph Upchuck

     Ralph is a poet from the 20th century. He mostly likes to write about bugs and stuff. I like his poems a lot. They’re pretty good mostly.

     This poet’s skill at creating metaphors and similes is far more interesting than any other poet before his time.

   Ralph’s poems are kind of shaped like bugs. That’s the form. “The mosquitoes under the sun make me think twice/About going outside when it’s nice…”

    Ralph has great imagery. “…and that’s why it bit me…” So you see, I picture a bug biting me in this line from his poem.

     The tone of Ralph’s poems is serious and scientific. He uses big science-related words.

     Ralph uses bug bite themes the most. “Bug bites are scary/Especially when the bug is hairy…” Mr. Upchuck also writes about strep throat in his poem called, I Kissed a Girl and Now I Gotta Pay. “Strep throat makes me feel so icky/But I get to stay home from school/Whenever I’m sickly…” I think Ralph is pretty morbid really.

    Ralph uses poetic language like similes and metaphors and stuff. He also uses words like infectious, swollen, and mosquito. He has a unique choice of words.

     His poetry is considered 20th Century poetry.  Here’s the entire poem of A Spider Bit Me and Now I’m Going to Die:

A spider bit me

And now I’m going to die

I don’t know why I try

I wish I could fly

But instead I’ll die


     This poem uses the typical vocabulary of the 20th century, with a few science words thrown in.

    So you see, Ralph Upchuck’s skill at creating similes and metaphors is far greater than any other poet of his time. He’s better than Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, and even Shel Silverstein.

What inspires a poet?

inspiration of william carlos williams' poem what inspired emily dickinson william shakespeare to write sonnets

Extra Credit: Who is this poet?

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For this journal, you’re going to have to do three things:

  1. Read your poet’s biographical information on Wikipedia and
  2. Take another close look at the poem you submitted for last week’s journal comment on this blog, then
  3. Add a comment to this post, similar to the example below

What events in your poet’s life may have inspired the creation of the poem you submitted last week? If you quote Wikipedia word-for-word, please supply a link to Wikipedia.

Here’s an example:

  1. “The Pied Piper of Hamlin”
  2. by Robert Browning
  3. Here’s my quoted stanza from last week: “…In Transylvania there’s a tribe/Of alien people who ascribe/The outlandish ways and dress/On which their fathers and mothers having risen/Out of some subterraneous prison…/So Willy, let me and you be wipers/Of scores out with all men–especially pipers!/And, whether they pipe us free from rats or from mice,/If we’ve promised them aught, let us keep our promise!”
  4. On Wikipedia, I read that Browning’s mother was an accomplished musician, and Browning inherited his mother’s talent. This may have inspired his creation of a musically talented trickster character, like the pied piper. However, I also learned that the fairy tale of the pied piper is much older than Browning himself. Wikipedia also says, “Robert’s father, a literary collector, amassed a library of around 6,000 books, many of them rare. Thus, Robert was raised in a household of significant literary resources.” So one might guess that he was exposed to the original fairy tale of the pied piper in his father’s library.
  5. Wikipedia Citation: “Robert Browning.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 April 2011. Web. 21 April 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Browning>