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Understanding Poetry

In this class, Junior High and High School students will be introduced to the art of reading poetry.  Through reading and discussion of more than 75 classic poems, they will be equipped to recognize the poet's tools, literary devices and many prevalent poetic forms.  Most importantly, they will learn to do the hard work of listening to the poet, thinking his thoughts after him, searching out his symbols and images, his devices and diction in order to come to terms with his ideas.  Lively discussion using the Socratic Method will follow reading of individual poems which exemplify key ideas introduced in class.

Students come to class having read the poems assigned, some of which will be closely studied in class and some of which will illustrate forms and devices.  Additionally, students will read biographical selections of each author as appropriate in order to understand the context of each poem - that is, as an aid to identifying the poetic speaker (or persona) and understanding the poetic language peculiar to an era.

Although no textbooks are required for this course, students and parents may be interested in two books which form the foundation of our approach:   An Invitation to Poetry by Jay Parini and The Roar on the Other Side by Suzanne Clark.

CenterForLit  instructors use the Socratic method to conduct online discussions of classic books.  This method involves asking questions that force them to think carefully about their reading, and then to think carefully about their thinking.  Using the author's theme as the goal of the discussion, instructors encourage students to understand his message by discussing the structural and stylistic components that make up his story.  Next, students are drawn by further questioning to critically examine their own assumptions about the author's theme.  As a result, students gain a deeper understanding of the book, and also of themselves as readers and thinkers. 

Course Details:

A sample discussion of the CenterForLit Online Academy.

  • Instructors: Missy Andrews and Emily Andrews

  • Monthly 2-hour Socratic discussions are held at 10:00 AM Eastern Time (7:00 AM Pacific) on Tuesdays.

  • NEW FEATURES! Online meeting software (included in tuition) provides screen sharing and live audio with chat. Students raise hands to participate aloud, chat with instructors, and see instructors via live video.

  • Conversation boards: Each month, students make regular contributions to a chat-style conversation about the last book discussed. Posts are monitored by course instructors.

  • Recordings: High quality audio recordings of each class (with discussion notes in PDF format) allow students to participate at their own pace if desired. Students receive an email invitation to join the student database, where they have access to recordings and notes from each discussion.

  • Grades and Credits (optional): Upon request, discussion students receive regular report cards based on their participation in the conversation board and earn one High School credit in English.

  • Tuition: $399 annually for the discussion-only class.

Discussion Schedule:

All discussion classes meet one Tuesday per month at 10:00 AM Eastern time (7:00 AM Pacific), except the first class of the year, which meets on Wednesday September 12 at 10:00 AM Eastern (7:00 AM Pacific).


Upon enrollment, you will download a registration packet with complete instructions
for joining each online discussion and participating in the conversation board.
If you would like more information, you can call our office any time at (509) 738-2837.

Enrollment Options:

Center For Lit offers several tuition discounts and payment options. Choose a payment plan below for complete enrollment information (including sibling discounts). Pelican Society Discount is applied below.



We appreciate the responsibility involved in choosing curriculum materials for your students, and we ask you to make this decision carefully. If your plans change and your student must withdraw from a class, Center For Lit can transfer your registration to a different class or to a future term; however, THERE ARE NO REFUNDS FOR ONLINE CLASS REGISTRATIONS.