American Lit: Walt Whitman “Song of Myself” Video & Poetry Project



PDF file. Cover plus one page. Project these directions and/or copy to make handouts. This resource provides on one page all the directions you need for your students to create videos that emulate the documentary-style videos produced by journalist and filmmaker Jennifer Crandall in her ground-breaking and award-winning project, Whitman, Alabama.
If you need a FUN way to teach Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” look no further! This is seriously one of my favorite things I have ever done in my eleven years of teaching. Read about this project on my blog in this post titled, “Song of Myself” Video Project Reveals Walt Whitman’s Importance Today.”
In her documentary project, Crandall invites Alabamans to read a verse from Whitman’s “Song of Myself” as she and her crew do the filming. The videos are spontaneous, sincere, and captivating!
This assignment asks students to do the same: choose a verse from Whitman’s poem, then have a friend, family member or someone else they know (coach, boss, school principal) read it as the student records.

Several students recorded friends and family members reading from a couch, at a table, etc. Others really dove into the project. For example…

  • One student submitted a video of her boyfriend reciting a poem while welding.
  • Another recorded her grandmother reading a verse while smoking bee hives!
  • Another recorded her best friend grooming her horse while reciting!
  • SO FUN!
Students shared their videos with me, wrote a brief summary or interpretation of the poems, and then we discussed and analyzed them during class. It was so much fun! Such an awesome way to end our study of America’s national poet, Walt Whitman.
I know you’ll enjoy this activity! Try it and let me know how it goes by leaving a review or a note on my Contact page.


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