CAN’T ORDER A POEM LIKE YOU ORDER A TACO”: AN INTRODUCTION TO POETRY
GRADE: 7 to 10
SUBJECT MATTER: English; Language Arts
Through this lesson's activities, students will explore what poetry is and certain aspects within it. They will write their own knowledge and perceptions of poetry and the expand that knowledge and experience through listening to, reading, and writing poetry and exploring poetic terminology.
Students will be able to:
STANDARDS From the IRA/NCTE Standards for the English Language Arts http://www.ncte.org/standards
For class: Computers
Glossary of Poetic
Terms: A Unique Guide for the Study of Poetry. Bob’s Byway: A Poetic Diversion.
Robert Harris. A Glossary
of Literary Terms. http://www.virtualsalt.com
Steve Lane. Literary
Terms. Department of English Malaspina University-College. www.mala.bc.ca/~lanes
Ann Woodlief. LITWEB:
An Online Companion to the Norton Introduction to Literature, Seventh
PREP FOR TEACHER
Before beginning this lesson, bookmark the four web sites listed. The video should be set to run approximately ten minutes into the video when Nye gets out of her chair and begins to address the audience. The video runs for approximately ten additional minutes until Nye completes her reading and sits down. A definitions handout that lists all the terms to be researched on the web sites should be prepared so that students know for what terms they are responsible for (poetry, poem, tone, imagery, scene, meter, and rhyme).
The following activities will allow students to solidify their prior knowledge of and experiences with poetry through written reflection.
Step 1: What
Do I Know About Poetry
Give students fifteen minutes to complete a one-page Quickwrite in which they answer the question "What is Poetry?" Explain that their answers will most likely be specific to the individual; students may include examples, personal experiences, emotions, and reactions.
FOCUS FOR VIEWING
There are four video viewings. The first and third viewing is without sound. The second and fourth viewing has sound.
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, when there is no sound, the students are to focus on
When there is sound, the students are to determine if they were right. "Why and Why not."
The following activities will expand the students' knowledge of poetry and poetry terms in a way that accepts and acknowledges the students' prior knowledge, making students more comfortable with poetry and increasing their willingness to participate.
Step 1: Parts of
Give each student an introduction to poetic terminology handout that has three columns, one that lists the vocabulary words (poetry, poem, imagery, scene, tone, meter, rhyme), another labeled "Predictions," and the third labeled "Research."
Give students two to three minutes to jot down in the predictions column what they think each vocabulary term in the first column might mean, what they know about each word, how each word relates to things other than poetry. Put students into small groups of three to five students; each group is assigned a particular web site to use in researching the different vocabulary words.
The "Research" column serves as the FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION when students go to the computers. As students find the definitions for the terminology on the web sites, they will write the definitions in the research column next to the words and their predictions. If possible, each student should have his own computer, but an entire group can be assigned to a single computer if necessary. Students should find definitions and examples of the vocabulary on the web sites; each group looks on a different page (more pages may be needed or print materials could supplement depending on the size of the class).
Step 2: What Didn't I Know About Poetry. Each group will finish the above task at different times; allow at least fifteen minutes for students to complete the Internet search. However, as individual groups complete the assignment, students can complete the day's closing activity which can be explained on an overhead, the board, or orally. Each student, using the knowledge gained from the Internet search, will return to the Quickwrite from the beginning of class and complete a Quickwrite Extension. Students need to add half a page describing what they learned from the research: how accurate or thorough was your prior knowledge? What surprised you about what you found? Did the search remind you of any other experiences with poetry? Etc. The following activities will further increase student knowledge about and comfort with poetry. Students will also explore alternative definitions of poetry and poetic terminology.
Step 3: What Didn't I Know About Poetry. In order to create a continuity from day to day, it is necessary to link directly back to the activities of the day before. Students spend the first two to three minutes of class "Pair Sharing" what new information they learned from the Internet search of poetry terminology.
Bring students together as a class to share the information learned from the web sites, focusing and guiding the discussion on comparing and contrasting the different ideas presented on each web site and student perception. Students should refer to the completed vocabulary terms handout as they participate in discussion.
Step 4: What is Poetry and Where Does it Come From. Because all students experience is going to be different and not all the information on the web sites is exactly alike, students may feel that they have taken a step back in defining poetry. Reassure students that all perspectives on poetry are useful and important. Explain to students that the terminology is not the only way to approach poetry. What better source is there to find out about poetry than a poet?
Step 5: Naomi Shihab Nye Video. Insert the video of Naomi Shihab Nye's presentation from The Dodge Poetry Festival Videoconference and give a brief introduction to Nye, her work, and The Dodge Poetry Festival, all available at the beginning of the videoconference.
Give students a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by having them answer the following questions: How does Naomi Shihab Nye define poetry? Where does she think poetry comes from? Etc. Students watch and listen to the three poems (approximately 10 minutes); PAUSE after each poem, so students can answer the questions in writing and share impressions orally after viewing each poem on the video: "Travel Alarm," "Valentine for Ernest Mann," and "Wedding Cake."
In the video, Nye reads and comments on three of her poems and the process and inspiration for each individual piece. She briefly discusses the importance of the moment, specific images, emotions, and the passion of poetry. These ideas will add to the foundation established with the Quickwrite, Quickwrite Extension, and the Internet search. After the video, as a class, discuss the students' question responses and impressions.
POST VIEWING ACTIVITIES
Step 1: Define Poetry through Poems Nye's poem "Valentine for Ernest Mann," second poem viewed on the video, is a poem that attempts to define poetry. View that poem again and give students a written copy. Talk about how Nye establishes her idea of poetry in her poem. Explain the importance of reading as well as writing poetry.
Using the Quickwrite, the terminology information, and the knowledge gained from Naomi Shihab Nye's presentation, students will write a poem in which they attempt to define poetry from their personal perspective, experience, and knowledge base.
The eventual use of this assessment is up to the discretion of the teacher. The poems about poetry can be handed in for evaluation, presented orally to the class, used in future projects and writing workshop, etc. The activities chosen to follow this media-rich lesson may or may not determine the ultimate use of the culminating activity.
Students can plan public poetry readings for their community or school, schedule readers, write their own poetry to present, and present others' poetry, especially during April, National Poetry Month. Students can start their own poetry publication at your school to be distributed to the class, school, and/or community.
For additional lesson plans and ideas relating to this topic and many others try TeacherSource at PBS Online! You will find activities, lesson plans, teacher guides and links to other great educational web sites! Search the database by keyword, grade level or subject area! Mathline and Scienceline are also great resources for teachers seeking teaching tips, lesson plans, assessment methods, professional development, and much more!
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