Lesson Plan: For Teachers: The Care and Feeding of a Writer
Share with students that Margaret Atwood says that your ability to write poetry will be decided by the kind of childhood you have. Ask students to brainstorm a few words that describe their childhood. Explain to students that they will research Atwood's childhood to discover what helped her develop as a poet.
Outline the Opportunity
Have students view the clip "A precocious and creative child" on the topic Margaret Atwood: Queen of CanLit on the CBC Digital Archives website. Ask them to take notes about the aspects of Atwood's childhood that helped her to develop as a writer. Ask: How was her creative flair already evident? How was this flair encouraged to develop? If students have time for further exploration, they should view the clip "Editing the New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse in English."
Revisit and Reflect
Have students share their responses with the class. As a class, summarize the findings. In case students don't mention it, point out that writer Susanna Moodie inspired several of Atwood's works, though Atwood at first didn't want to read one of Moodie's books because her father told her it was a classic. Have students reflect on their own interests in reading and writing--do they shy away from books described as "classics" or do they think it is important to read them? Why or why not?
Students can write a poem about how to raise a poet, based on their findings about Margaret Atwood.