Intro to Narrative Poetry/Paul Revere's Ride

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SWBAT identify and describe three elements of narrative poetry and apply that knowledge to a poem.

Big Idea

Narrator+Story+Structure=Narrative Poetry

Lecture and Powerpoint

15 minutes

This lesson is the first lesson in a two-week unit on narrative poetry.  When the kids come in to eighth grade, they have been exposed to poetry, but they haven't done much technical work with it.  They can identify rhyme scheme, but that's about it.

I found a great website (cited on the PowerPoint) that breaks this particular genre of poetry down into three components, so I decided to use that framework for the unit.  

While I don't usually have students take notes on a "lecture," I tell them to take notes on the slides and on my commentary.  I also explain to them that effective note-taking involves writing down important information that you don't already know, and that they should develop their own shorthand that works for them.  At each slide, I point out what I would write if I were a student or what I think is really important on the slide (they are very text-heavy.)

The students are fairly inexperienced with note-taking of this type, so taking notes takes a few minutes per slide.

Reading Paul Revere's Ride

10 minutes

Before reading the poem, I ask them what they knew about Paul Revere.  Usually, they all will have heard of him, most will know something about "one if by land, two if by sea" and maybe a few have seen a documentary about Paul Revere's ride that indicated that there was definitely more than one person watching, waiting, and warning that night. [This is great, because their assessment later in the unit is focused on a poem from the perspective of William Dawes.]

I then read the poem, carefully stopping at punctuation (not end-stopping), so the students can hear the rhythm of the poem.

It's a long poem.  I recommend having some water handy.

Taking Notes on the Three Elements

20 minutes

After I have read the poem to them, I ask the students to take 20 minutes and take notes on the narrator, story, and structure of the poem.

We then discuss their observations.  I do a very brief introduction of meter by showing them how to mark stressed and unstressed syllables.  I make sure to lead them into an observation of the poem's rhythm, which resembles horse's hooves.  (They get very excited about this.)

I wrap this lesson up by having the students write a short exit slip, wherein they identify the characters, setting, conflict, and point of view of the poem.  This is just a check for who is still "with" us at the end of the lesson.