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									                                           Walt Whitman

           By Jacquie Hill and Lizette Vilaragut – Flemington-Raritan School District



Grades: Elementary

NJ Core Curriculum Standards: Social Studies 6.1, 6.2 & 6.4

Lesson Summary:
In this lesson students, will be introduced to the famous American poet Walt Whitman by watching a CSI
power point, who‘s haunting the bridges of South Jersey? During the power point, students will complete an
ESP&G graphic organizer. Next, working with a partner or in small groups, students will interpret Walt
Whitman‘s poem entitled, ‗O Captain! My Captain!’ Students will write a full paragraph about how slavery
inspired Whitman to write poetry followed by a paragraph of something in the world today, that they feel is
unjust or needs to be changed.


Suggested Time Frame: One 40 minute class period

Objectives: Students will be able to:

              Identify and describe the economic, social and political impact that Walt Whitman had
               on American society

              Interpret a poem written by Walt Whitman

              Identify Walt Whitman as a supporter of Abraham Lincoln and Civil Rights


Time Period: 1819-1892
Historical Contrasts
                              Essential Historical Questions
                               1. What is the structure of the
  Democratic Republic                                                States‘ rights
                                       government?
                              2. Who or what group controls
          Union                                                      Confederacy
                                        the society?
      Emancipation
   Proclamation, Race,        3. What defines the identity of       Race, gender,
   gender, geographical               the people?                geographical location
         location




                                                                                            1 of 9
Historical Background:

        Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was born just thirty years after George Washington was
inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America. He was born in Long Island, New
York. During his childhood, he witnessed slavery on his own mother‘s farm. He witnessed the growth
of a nation during very tumultuous times. Walt Whitman is best known as a poet who wrote many
poems about the growth of America, the expansion of the railroad and the Civil War. He combined his
own emotions with the vivid images of American life.

        During the Civil War, when his brother was wounded at Fredericksburg, he went there to care
for him and also for other Union and Confederate soldiers. The Civil War had a great effect on the
writer. He wrote to ensure that the public would remember the pain and sorrow of war. One of his
famous poems was written about the death of Abraham Lincoln; it is 'O Captain! My Captain!' He had
great admiration and was a supporter of President Lincoln and civil rights.
.
        As a poet, Walt Whitman did not have a steady income. His poetry would either be accepted by
the masses or banned by others. The public was not always ready to hear his outspoken words. Walt
Whitman struggled to support himself throughout most of his life. He spent any excess money,
including gifts from friends, to buy supplies for the Civil War patients he nursed. He had also been
sending money to his widowed mother and invalid brother.

        In the early 1870s, Walt Whitman settled in Camden, New Jersey where he had come to visit
his dying mother at his brother's house. However, after suffering a stroke, he decided to stay in
Camden. He stayed with his brother until the 1882 publication of Leaves of Grass (which was hailed as
the ―Declaration of Independence of American letters‖) gave him enough money to buy a modest
home in Camden. Here he spent his declining years working on additions and revisions to his final
book, Good-Bye, My Fancy (1891). He died on March 26, 1892, and was buried in a tomb he designed
and had built on a lot in Harleigh Cemetery.

The Walt Whitman Bridge (built 1953-1957) located between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and
Glouster, Camden County, New Jersey was named after the nineteenth-century poet and author.


Key Terms:

economic –- of, relating to wealth, money, production, distribution, and consumption of goods and
services <economic growth>

social -- 1: of or relating to human society <social institutions> 2 : of, relating to, or based on class or
status in a particular society <not accepted as their social equal>

political – 1 : of or relating to a government or the conduct of government 2 : involving, concerned
with, or accused of acts against a government or political system <political prisoners>

geographical -- the location of living and nonliving things on earth and the way they affect one
another

Source: http://www.wordcentral.com/
                                                                                                  2 of 9
Do Now:

      As students walk into the classroom, they will be asked to locate and name the bridges in New
       York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania that cross the Delaware River.

Critical Thinking Questions:

The Civil War provided opportunities for Americans to contribute to the war effort. Walt Whitman
contributed by caring for both Union and Confederate soldiers. Walt Whitman wrote his poetry to
ensure that Americans would remember the pains and sorrows of war. Why do you think this was
important to him?

Anticipatory Set:

      Students will be asked to share with their shoulder partner why bridges/monuments are named
       after people. Volunteers will be asked to share aloud. Teacher will explain to the students that
       today they will be investigating a bridge that is haunted by a famous local resident of New
       Jersey.

Procedures:

  I. After sharing why bridges/monuments are named after people, the teacher will distribute the
     ESP&G graphic organizer. Students will view the CSI power point; that‘s haunting bridges of
     South Jersey? While students view the power point they will record pertinent information on
     their graphic organizer, students will be given the opportunity to share and then the teacher will
     clarify any misconceptions.

 II. The students are next to be partnered/teamed up and the teacher will use the overhead to display
     the poem ‗O Captain My Captain‘. Teacher will share the poem with the class, and discuss how
     Walt Whitman supported Abraham Lincoln‘s quest for civil rights.

III. Students will write a full paragraph about how slavery inspired Whitman to write poetry followed
     by a paragraph of something in the world today, that they feel is unjust or needs to be changed.


Closure:

      Students will be asked to share with their partner what they learned during the lesson.
       Volunteers will then share aloud.

Extensions:

      United-streaming video on Walt Whitman‘s life 27 minutes includes quiz (not appropriate for
       all age groups only at teacher‘s discretion).




                                                                                                 3 of 9
Evaluation:

      ESP&G Graphic Organizer
      Then and now…
      Teacher Observation


Homework Assignment:

      Students will select another NJ/Penn bridge and research the person: Betsey Ross, Ben Franklin
       and complete an ESPG sheet.


Resources:

1.1  Who‘s haunting the bridges of South Jersey? (Powerpoint Presentation)
1.2  ESP&G - Student Version
1.2A ESP&G - Teacher Version
1.3  ‗O Captain My Captain‖
1.4  Compare and contrast


Cited Sources;
http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15754
http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/126
http://www.wordcentral.com/
http://en.structurae.de/structures/data/index.cfm?id=s0000566




                                                                                           4 of 9
                                                       Worksheet 1.1

See attached Powerpoint Presentation on Walt Whitman




                                                             5 of 9
                                                    Worksheet 1.2 Student
Name ___________________________________ Date ___________


                                  The ESPG’s of People and Events
economic –- of, relating to wealth, money, production, distribution, and consumption of goods and
services <economic growth>

social -- 1: of or relating to human society <social institutions> 2 : of, relating to, or based on class or
status in a particular society <not accepted as their social equal>

political – 1 : of or relating to a government or the conduct of government 2 : involving, concerned
with, or accused of acts against a government or political system <political prisoners>

geographical -- the location of living and nonliving things on earth and the way they affect one
another

Source: http://www.wordcentral.com/

Name of CSI:            ______________________                        Case #

Economic -- _______________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________


Social – __________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________


Political – ________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________


Geographical— ____________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________

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                                                                           Worksheet 1.2A Teacher
Name: _________________________________                                       Date:______________


                                  The ESPG’s of People and Events
economic –- of, relating to wealth, money, production, distribution, and consumption of goods and
services <economic growth>

social -- 1: of or relating to human society <social institutions> 2 : of, relating to, or based on class or
status in a particular society <not accepted as their social equal>

political – 1 : of or relating to a government or the conduct of government 2 : involving, concerned
with, or accused of acts against a government or political system <political prisoners>

geographical -- the location of living and nonliving things on earth and the way they affect one
another

Source: http://www.wordcentral.com/

Name of CSI: Who‘s haunting the bridges of South Jersey?              Case # 05311819

Economic –

As a poet, Walt Whitman did not have a steady income. Walt Whitman struggled to support himself
throughout most of his life. He spent any excess money, including gifts from friends, to buy supplies
for the Civil War patients he nursed. He had also been sending money to his widowed mother and
invalid brother.

Social –
American poet, poetry was accepted by masses banned by others. The public was not always ready to
hear his outspoken words.

Political –
Civil rights activist, strong supporter of Abraham Lincoln.


Geographical—
Born - Long Island, New York
Spent much time in Fredericksburg, VA caring for Union and Confederate soldiers.
Final years spent in Camden, New Jersey.




                                                                                                  7 of 9
                                                                   Worksheet 1.3

                         O Captain! My Captain!

                               By Walt Whitman

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up- for you the flag is flung- for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths- for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.




                                                                         8 of 9
                                                                                     Worksheet 1.4
                                        Compare and Contrast
                                        Then and Now………


       Read the poem ―O Captain, My Captain‖ written by Walt Whitman. Remember that Walt Whitman

had grown up having slaves and experienced the Civil War first hand. His own brother had been wounded

during the war, and he was deeply affected by the injustices that he witnessed during his lifetime. He became

a strong admirer of Abraham Lincoln, and his leadership during the war against slavery. Write a full

paragraph about how slavery inspired Whitman to write poetry. Then write a paragraph of something in the

world today, which you feel is unjust or needs to be changed.




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