Picture the Poem: Creating a Poetry Tableau

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SWBAT analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums by developing a poetry production and drafting ideas for an explanatory essay.

Big Idea

A poem comes to life and walks right off of the page as students develop movements, facial expression and intonation to convey theme and tone.

Do Now

20 minutes

Today students are reading self-selected texts at the beginning of the lesson. I choose to include SSR because I realize that reading texts independently is a way for students to practice the skills we have been learning in class. While they are reading, I sometimes hold reading conferences to have them share their texts with me. I can track how long they are reading and check in with them to see if they are reading an appropriate text. My students expect to do some type of journaling about their text after the reading period, but sometimes I surprise them with a question, OR I ask a student to read an exciting or interesting passage from their book to the class. Many times this excites other students to want to read those texts as well.

Overall, you must hold students accountable for the reading. I used to read with them--and sometimes I still do, but this time is better used instructionally to conference or check in with them.

Application: Creating and Performing Tableaus

40 minutes

At the end of the previous lesson, students were assigned to groups and each group was assigned two specific stanzas of "A Voice" by Pat Mora. Today, we will begin the class by working with the groups to develop the poetry production that will end with the tableau (picture of some element of the poem) using body movements and facial expressions. I chose this activity because I wanted students to experience the same ideas in two different mediums. According to the CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7, students need to be able to analyze the treatment of a subject in two different mediums, so my students get to experience the creation of the second medium as well as the analysis of it when they begin to write. 

I always give a preview of what's next, so I tell my students that this tableau will become important as they begin to write about the poem and the production later on.

This is a great opportunity for kinesthetic learners to shine. The groups are fully independent and make all of the decisions concerning their production. I do not assign roles in the groups because I want to see who emerges as the leaders, and I need to observe their group work habits for future groupings.

I remind my students to use the rubric to earn the grade they want and use the text to complete the groupwork for the tableau.

After 30 minutes, students perform the poetry production and tableau as one continuous poem. Here is an example of a group acting out their part of the tableau.

At the end we celebrate our accomplishment with a round of applause.

Now it's time to write about it.

Building Knowledge

15 minutes

Today the building knowledge section of the lesson comes after the application because students were applying their understanding of tone and theme to the tableau before working on their writing.

In this section I transition into a conversation about their writing, and I tell them that it's time to put everything we have learned together into prose. We will be writing an explanatory essay that answers our essential question (What defines us?) and analyzes the poem, "A Voice." In addition, we will be discussing their representation of the poem in their tableau.  We will begin by writing some of our body paragraphs.

I am choosing to have students write the body paragraphs first because I have found that introductions can be too abstract for young writers. We get right to the meat of the writing first because students have more concrete ideas to include in the body. The introduction will become the icing or the condiment for this essay.

Here's the outline or list of ideas to include in the body paragraphs:

1) Identify the theme

    Use textual evidence from the poem to explain the theme.

    Explain your evidence,

    Analyze how elements of the poetry production contributed to the theme.

2) Identify the tone

    Use textual evidence from the poem to explain how the author conveys the tone.

    Explain your evidence.

    Discuss any shifts in tone.

    Use textual evidence from the poem to explain the shifts in tone.

    Explain your evidence.

    Explain how the poetry production helped convey the tone.

All of the elements in the list are opportunities to practice Common Core reading skill CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2 and CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4 which focus on how to make meaning of a text by analyzing the author's word choice and central idea, as well as Common Core writing skills for writing an informational/explanatory text CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2.

I am giving my students this list because these are all the topics I am looking for in their response. This will serve as the body of the essay, and we will be editing and revising later. This list reminds them to not only cite evidence from the poem and tableau, (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1) but also to explain that evidence. This is an area in which my students really struggle. They can cite evidence but they rarely explain it, and I think this list will help move their essays from 2's and 3's to 3's and 4's on our grading rubric.

Oh---by the way, I'm not so interested in paragraph structure here because we will put on our editing hats later in the process.

Application: Beginning to Write

15 minutes

At this point, amidst the groans and looks of terror,  I will ask my students to begin drafting their explanatory paragraphs (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2) using the outline and all of the evidence they have collected. They will finish this for homework, but I want to give them a chance to ask questions and to begin the process in class. I also want to remind them to use all of their responses including the organizers (TPCASTT) we used in the last lesson as well as the text and notes from the tableau.

I will conference with some students, telling them how I might begin a paragraph, but I'll be careful not to give too much away so that they can begin to generate their own ideas.

This assignment will be their first extended writing piece in high school, so they need lots of encouragement and nudging, but I am confident that it will pay off in the end.