ELA 3: "I Hear America Singing"

We hear America singing, too, but it's almost always the latest Bieber jam. No wonder we haven't been driven to write any poems about that.

3rd GradeLanguage Arts
Elementary and Middle School3rd Grade
LanguageEnglish Language

Transcript

00:27

And all the while… …the ketchup

00:29

…slowly… ….weeps.

00:31

…Yeah, we just made that up, but still. [Ketchup bottle weeps]

00:33

Some poems are that complicated.

00:35

A good example of a more complicated poem that's…y'know, actually good would be Walt

00:40

Whitman's “I Hear America Singing.”

00:42

Let's start by reading it now. [Book opens]

00:44

Hit pause if you have to.

00:45

We'll be over here, writing sonnets about mustard and mayonnaise.

00:53

Pretty nice sounding poem, huh?

00:55

But how much of it did you follow? [Girl with a red cape walks through a maze]

00:57

If you got confused a few times along the way, we don't blame you – it's not quite

01:00

as simple our amazing horseradish poem.

01:02

So let's go back and figure out anything that might have left us scratching our heads. [Girl scratches head]

01:05

Beginning with the word “varied,” right there in the first line.

01:08

If things are “varied” that means that they're different, or not the same.

01:12

The word after that is “carols” which means songs.

01:15

So this first line is saying that there are a whole bunch of different songs being sung

01:19

about America.

01:20

After this, he goes on to list a whole bunch of different people and what they're singing. [Teacher discussing poem to class]

01:24

The next word that might trip you up is in the line about mechanics – see that word “blithe”?

01:28

That's just a fancy word for saying someone is happy or joyous.

01:32

So now we know that the mechanic is singing a happy song. [Mechanic walks and musical notes appear]

01:35

So…probably nothing by Adele, then.

01:38

And what about the word “mason”?

01:40

We know it must be a person, because that seems to be the pattern Whitman is following

01:43

in the poem – but what is a mason?

01:46

Never fear, Shmoop is here! [Man wearing shmoop t-shirt appears]

01:48

Mason is a word for a builder that works with brick or stone.

01:51

Easy, huh?

01:52

In fact, Whitman seems to be listing lots of jobs in this poem – like “ploughboy."

01:56

Which is a word for someone whose job it is to lead animals with a plow.

01:59

Nearly there – but we've got one more fancy word to cover, and it comes in the second

02:04

to last line of the poem.

02:05

That word right there... robust. [word robust highlighted in yellow]

02:08

We can see it's in a list that describes young men, which makes sense, since it's another

02:12

word for “strong.”

02:13

That should clear up some of the more confusing words for you.

02:16

The poem isn't really all too complex when you break it down – it's about a whole bunch

02:19

of different people singing a whole bunch of different songs. [People singing songs as they walk by]

02:22

And together, those songs make us America….

02:25

Diverse and beautiful!

02:27

They also probably make our throats sore after a while.

02:29

Singing all day sounds downright exhausting. [Man singing in a meeting and falls to the floor]