Cozy Up to "A Voice" by Pat Mora using a TPCASTT Organizer

12 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT read closely to analyze a poem by completing a TPCASTT organizer.

Big Idea

Students get up close and personal with a poem by using the TPCASTT to collect their ideas.

Do Now

10 minutes

Every day I begin the class with some kind of warm-up activity that I call the "Do Now."  This is to get their little brains warmed up for the upcoming lesson. I begin this lesson with this particular "Do Now" because I want check their background knowledge before we begin using the graphic organizer. This flipchart shows what it looks like when students enter. (In order to view the flip chart, you will need to download the free ActivInspire software to your computer.)

Here's the "Do Now":

Define the following terms:

  • Connotation
  • Paraphrasing

The first term can be found in your glossary of literary terms in your textbook. Try to write your own definition of the second term.

I'll  set the timer for 5 minutes and allow students to share their definitions to make sure we have a shared understanding of connotation and paraphrasing.

In order to get students to really understand connotation, I will use an example with the word, skinny.  My daughter (who has been the same size since middle school and is going to kill me for sharing this), a sophomore in college, hates to be called skinny. For her, that word has a negative connotation. I'll ask them how many of them agree. Then we will have (what I hope will be) an interesting discussion about what other words might be less offensive to someone who doesn't like skinny. They will likely come up with words like slim, slender, and thin.

For paraphrasing, we will discuss the difference between paraphrasing and summarizing.  Together we will clarify that summarizing means picking out the important parts and paraphrasing means translating into one's own words.

Building Knowledge: Introduction to the TPCASTT

15 minutes

This building knowledge section is so important to the lesson today because what you model here is what students will give you back when they move into independent practice. If you model it poorly, the entries on the TPCASTT may be lackluster. I tell my students that the TPCASTT is an organizer that they can use to cozy up to a text. I found this version of the organizer on, but there are several versions of it out there. Today we will be using it to analyze the poem, "A Voice" by Pat Mora. It is a way of connecting to the deeper meanings in a text. I am choosing to use the TPCASTT because it is a great way of organizing a lot of analysis about the text in one place. This is an organizer that many teachers use in Advanced Placement English courses to help students analyze poems for writing and/or discussing them holistically. I selected this poem because it fits into the overarching theme of the unit, The Search for Identity, and the speaker shifts from the daughter's to the mother's perspective within the poem. I can't wait to see how hard my students will work to understand this shift. Here's a video that shows what we will focus on in the TPCASTT.

I chose this lesson because the Common Core standards require that students are able to determine a central theme of a text, (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2) and analyzing all of the elements in the TPCASTT will help students determine the theme. This is why theme is the last entry in the organizer.

The TPCASTT stands for Title, Paraphrasing, Connotation, Attitude, Title, and Theme. Our close reading will include a closer look at each of these elements.

During this part, I will model how I make a prediction about the title, and do a thorough paraphrase of the first two stanzas of the poem, "A Voice." This will show students how I translate the words of the speaker into my own words. This part is not about uncovering the deeper meanings YET...We will begin to analyze in the next section (attitude) but we need to make sure we understand the literal interpretation first. This paraphrasing will help them with the rest of the organizer.

After the modeling, I tell students that they will paraphrase the remaining 8...yes all  8 stanzas, working with a partner. I have found that discussing texts through partnering helps students do a better job with analyzing texts. After I have revived the students that have swooned from the realization that they have to paraphrase 8 WHOLE stanzas, I may want to remind my students that paraphrasing someone's words can be challenging work, and it takes time, so they have to work hard it.

Since we have already analyzed tone, connotation (figurative language and sound elements), and theme in previous lessons, I will ask them to work on those sections of the organizer after they complete the paraphrasing.




45 minutes

It's show me time! Now is the time for students to show how well they can paraphrase, analyze tone, shifts in tone, figurative language and sound elements and theme CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2 and CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4.  They will also include evidence of these findings on the chart CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1. Yes, it sounds like a lot, but your students can do it.

I will chunk this part of the strategy by telling them to work only on paraphrasing for the first 15-20 minutes because I don't want them to get overwhelmed with the entire organizer at once.

During this time, I'll circulate the room to support students that need it by checking their answers and reviewing portions of the text with them. This is also a great opportunity to pull a small group of students and re-teach paraphrasing, connotation, or theme.

At the half-time mark I will do a PENCILS DOWN PAUSE.  This is quick pause to check in on how things are going with the whole group. I will ask if anyone is experiencing any challenges and how they are working through them. I am doing this because I want to check for understanding and see where students are getting stuck.

At the pause, I will also talk about how they should document the shifts in tone. For this section, my students need to write what the tone shifts from and what it shifts to--and yes, they have to cite evidence. They will need it for the next lesson when they have to write about it, so I want to make sure the expectations on this part of the chart are clear.

Here's a video of student work (TPCASTT) that shows the extensive paraphrasing and analysis of the text.


Building Knowledge: Poetry Tableau

10 minutes

After about 35-40 minutes of working on the TPCASTT, I will tell students that for the next lesson, they will be doing a poetry tableau on "A Voice," by Pat Mora. A poetry tableau is a way of creating a picture of a poem through body movement. This will not only help them to visualize the imagery in the poem but also the attitude of the author and the theme or central message. In their tableau, they must convey the attitude and theme through movement. 

Now, it's time to get the students out of their seats. I'll tell them I want to show them an example of a 5th grade class doing a tableau for "Jabberwocky."

I chose this one because many of them would have read the poem in middle school.  As they view the tableau, I'll ask them to focus on movement, facial expression, and voice of the speaker. Afterwards, I'll ask them what they noticed.

As students present their tableau, they will need to use all of these elements to convey tone and theme. In the Common Core standards, students should be able to analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment. After the presentation of this tableau, my students will do just that!

Before allowing them to work on their production, I will review the Poetry Tableau Rubric  as a whole group. As much as possible, I use rubrics to clarify the expectations for the assignments as well as to assess what students have learned. I developed this rubric from one that I found online by adapting it to the tableau.

I'll assign groups, and each group will get 2 stanzas of the poem. Their homework is to come back next class with ideas for their tableau.


5 minutes

Now it is time to see if the TPCASTT was useful. I want to know whether this organizer really helps students to read more closely, so I simply ask them to respond to the following:

"Explain how the TPCASST Activity helped you to identify the tone and theme of the poem and to understand the poem better."

This will help me to decide whether the activity had the desired effect on my students. It will also let me know whether I need to re-teach anything the following class.