Remembering the Sights and Sounds of 9/11 through Poetry Day 1

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SWBAT use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters by writing a commemorative poem about 9/11

Big Idea

Shared poetry is the result as students compose poetry about September 11 using images and sound devices

Do Now

10 minutes

The first part of the lesson is a recap of the previous day's homework.  For the "Do Now", I am asking my students to reflect back on the evidence chart in which they collected evidence of sound devices and imagery in the poem, "Lineage" by Margaret Walker. In a previous lesson, I asked students to identify the tone and collect evidence of sound and imagery that help create the tone.  Today, I'll give them 2-3 minutes to review their evidence in order to be prepared to share if called upon.  I am having them reflect on the tone because students will need to be mindful and purposeful of the tone they are conveying as they write their poems today and during the next class. The Common Core will require students to be able to listen and speak to work collaboratively in a variety of group settings  so it is important to integrate listening and speaking into my lesson this year as often as possible. I'll ask a few students to share their examples to check for understanding in preparation for the classwork.

Since the Common Core will also require that students evaluate evidence to determine whether it is convincing, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.3 , I'll also give students the opportunity to do so during this time. For example, they could say they agree or disagree with their peers that the tone is regretful because....--and provide evidence to justify their responses.


15 minutes

I introduce the day's lesson by asking students how many of them remember anything about September 11, 2001. Since they were only two years old, it is interesting to hear their perspectives. After having a couple of them share, I tell them that they will learn a little about September 11 in today's lesson for the purpose of writing a poem that honors or reminds of the day in some way. I tell them that we will start by viewing a short clip. I chose this website because it gives a brief synopsis of the timeline along with the human interest aspect of the tragedy. It also provides information that some media may not have communicated during the time. For example, I share with my students that before watching the clip, I didn't know that there were seven world trade buildings. Also, I was not aware that a third building had fallen and that two of the buildings burned unchecked for hours. At the end of the clip, I ask students whether there was any information that was new to them in the clip.


Building Knowledge

15 minutes

For this part of the lesson, I will tell my students that they will be writing their own poems about September 11 in order to commemorate the tragic events in a positive way. Since not all students feel comfortable writing poetry, I think having them collaborate is an effective way to continue to build community as they discuss their ideas and write creatively. I am hoping that they will be motivated by the video and the sample poems that I will show them to write for this cause. If not, I'll have to go with Plan B and tell them that this activity will greatly enhance their grade. I'm really hoping that Plan B won't be necessary (wink, wink).

In order to build knowledge I tell students that they will architect their poem in groups, but each person will contribute by adding ideas. I also tell them that their poems will have the same type of vivid imagery and sound devices that we have been studying in "The Courage That My Mother Had," by Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Lineage," by Margaret Walker, "The Road Not Taken," by Robert Frost and "Song of the Open Road," by Walt Whitman.I will also show them sample poems about 911 to get their creative juices flowing. Be sure to go to the

Next, I will tell my students that they must have at least 2 stanzas in their poem. They can decide with their groups which sound devices they want to include, but they must keep in mind that attitude (tone) that they want to be conveyed by their words. I'll also remind them to use their notes on sound devices to make selections for their poem. The writing today, is a great opportunity to use precise words and phrases and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of their ideas CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3d, so I want students to really be purposeful about the words they use to convey a particular tone or attitude.

I am choosing to have students work in groups on these poems rather than individually to continue to build community and to provide an opportunity for collaboration and creativity. Also, they will have an opportunity to do some individual writing for homework as they develop additional ideas for the poems they are creating together.

It is important to give students ideas about how to begin writing their poems so I am giving them the following tips for writing their shared poems:

  1. Decide on your perspective.
  2. In your poem, the speaker does not have to be a human.
  3. You may write from the perspective of the towers, the water that was used to squash the flames, the smoke, the airplanes, etc. 


30 minutes

In this part of the lesson, my students will work in groups of four to compose their poems. During the group work, I will visit each group to hear their ideas, give suggestions and feedback, and to check in on their progress, making a note of any students or groups that need more instruction on the use of imagery and sound devices that convey tone CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3d.


10 minutes

At the end of class, I think it is important for students to hear the progress of other groups. I will ask them to share "clips" of their poems with the whole group.  At this point, students can respond thoughtfully to the perspectives of their peers' poetry (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d). I am having them do this because during this group share, their peers can give them feedback on their work so far. They can also get ideas to use in their group poem. I think feedback is important, and I want to establish that giving and receiving feedback is part of our daily routine.

It is not likely that students will complete their writing in class today because I think it will take some time to get on the same page with their groups; therefore, I have built in a homework assignment that will expedite their work on Day 2 of this lesson. I will ask each student to write at least 1 stanza for the group poem. They will bring these additional ideas to collaborate with the group for Day 2 of the lesson. The goal will not be to merely append their ideas together but to really be purposeful in editing the final product. I'll remind them to think about the tone and style they have already begun to use as a group and to try to continue that tone and style as they write individually for homework. I am having them do this because I think this will ensure that we have full products from each group in Day 2 since they will have so many ideas from which to choose.

Lesson Image Attribution: Public Domain

By Don Halasy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons