Maroo of the Winter Caves: Poetry Connection

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Read and discuss the “Where I’m From” poem. Draw inferences about the poem’s speaker based on evidence in the poem.

Big Idea

Find out just how much the speaker of this poem reveals about herself in just a few lines.


15 minutes

In this activity students warm up to the task of analyzing and then, later, writing poems, they complete the Figurative Language worksheet. Ann Turnbull, the author of the book Maroo of the Winter Caves uses a variety of descriptive techniques in her writing to bring the story alive to the reader. We review the definitions and examples together and, in an effort to keep them engaged, I require students to mark up the text by underlining the two things being compared and drawing an arrow from one item to the other. This worksheet is particularly useful because after students search out and examine the author’s use of figurative language, they try their hand at creating their own metaphors, similes and examples of personification in relation to the story. Another thing I emphasize in this lesson is that the best similes and metaphors offer an element of surprise. Hair can easily be compared to string, but to the "black night, deep, dark and mysterious"? Now, that's unexpected!

Guided Practice

35 minutes

During a class discussion, the students are able to identify poetry as another place that figurative language often appears. We come to the conclusion that one of the basic differences between poetry and prose is that poetry is written in lines arranged in stanzas while prose is written in sentences arranged in paragraphs. This difference means that poets need to be picky about the words they chose in an effort to say more with less and still bring ideas vividly alive to the reader. Another similarity between prose and poetry is that just as the author’s of stories create characters so do poets. Oftentimes poets write in the voice or from the point of view of someone else. In other words, a poem’s speaker or narrator may not be the poet himself. Notes from this discussion can be captured by the teacheron chart paper, using a document reader, or by other means. You may choose to create a t-chart or Venn diagram. Students can add these notes to digital or traditional paper notebooks.

At this point in the lesson, I let students know that we will analyze a poem and then write one in the same style but from the point of view of a character from the novel we just finished reading. First, students listen to a reading of the poem “Where I'm From” and then engage in analysis by numbering the lines, noting the arrangement of stanzas, and the presence of poetic devices, such as rhyme and repetition. They note that each stanza has ‘big idea’ and details that support that idea. For example, the first stanza reveals the speaker’s nationality as Irish in phrases like “forty shades of green” and “Gaelic smiles.” We continue through the rest of the poem in this way until it is all marked up and discuss all that we now know about the speaker even though we do not know the person’s name. More information on marking up the text is available in this video.


Wrap Up

10 minutes

Students complete an exit ticket to show how well they understood the day’s lesson. The information reveals each student’s level of understanding of the main terms discussed today: metaphor, simile, personification and speaker.