Poetry Explication Project

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SWBAT determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in text, including figurative and connotative meanings, and analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone through the explication of a poem.

Big Idea

Poetry becomes approachable through explication.


This lesson serves as part two of the Poetry Explication Project.  We essentially are in the computer lab for portions of two classes so that students can explicate their assigned poem and create a presentation.  These presentations will be taught by students to the class in the next lesson. 

The content of each individual poem is left to student interpretation so material may differ.  I end the class with notes on Gothic literature, which is the next unit.  My plan is to have students present their presentations, a few at a time, in the next few lessons as I introduce Gothic literary works.  The presentations are a great way to break up the class and make it more student centered.

Daily Language practice

10 minutes

I put two sentences with grammatical mistakes on the projector or overhead.  The class then writes the sentences on paper.  I solicit the class to volunteer which errors they see.  The topic covered in this example deals with comma usage when there is a compound predicate.  In this case, no comma is needed.  I explain to students if the comma was conjoining two independent clauses, then the comma is justified.  The second sentence again covers properly making a word plural.  It should be "handfuls."  Lastly, we look at the adverb and adjective describing the fight: really awful.  I ask students to think of a better, more precise way to describe a fight.  They usually come up with words such as violent, earth-shattering, etc. 

SAT Question of the Day

10 minutes

I use the attached link to show the SAT Question of the Day on the projector.  I engage students in a whole-class discussion on finding strategies to answer the question.  The subject matter of the question of the day changed daily; however, I advise students that there are probably a handful of grammatical topics that they should master.  These topics include the following: pronoun/antecedent agreement, subject/verb agreement, parallel structure, the comma splice, active/passive voice, and of course, vocabulary usage.



Poetry Explication Project

30 minutes

Students continue  to explicate a poem by themselves using available resources.  I divide students into collaborative learning groups for this project because I want them to discuss the poems and search for themes and other poetic devices.  I will assign each group a poem from the attached packet.

Each students group will be consist of about three students depending on the size of the class.  I will have students import their explication into a PowerPoint of Prezi so that they may teach their poem to class.  Students will be able to use an online search to find reputable sources that analyze their poem.  

  • PowerPoint slides will include the following:
  • Biographical information on the poet
  • Description of the speaker
  • Examination of poetic devices
  • Examination of secondary sources and what sources say about the poem.
  • Graphics 

Groups will take notes on all the poems.  An open notebook test will follow all presentations.  The purpose of this part of the assignment is to make sure students are paying attention.

Students generally need help with identifying sound devices such as assonance and consonance in the poems.  I circulate among the groups and help them find examples.  As far as understanding the poems, students have little problems.  The language for the most part is straight forward.  The poem "Daddy" is the only poem that challenges students because they do not understand the Nazi imagery.  I do have to explain many of the references to Nazi Germany.  Students do have access to the Internet during this project so that they may look up any background information on the poems.  I have included two students samples.

We will be visiting the computer lab for two days so that students may work on their explication, research, and importing into a PowerPoint or Prezi.

Notes: Gothic Literature

20 minutes

At the end of this lesson, I will begin some prep work for the next unit.  That unit is Gothic Literature.  The PowerPoint attached goes through a brief history and the origins of Gothic literature. It also describes Gothic techniques that are used to create a sense of mystery, supernatural, and other elements typical in Gothic literature.