Stories by the Fireside: Understanding "Snowbound"

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SWBAT analyze the impact of poetic devices in John Greenleaf Whittier's "Snowbound" to demonstrate understanding of how these devices create meaning.

Big Idea

Diction--not only the words themselves, but how they're used--is the essence of what makes a poem "poetic."

Intro and Welcome: Happy Birthday, Bram Stoker

10 minutes

Today is the birthday of Irish novelist, Bram Stoker, most famous for "Dracula". We being with a brief introduction to Stoker, and "Dracula," as well as a brief plot summary and background on the novel, highlighting the parts I know students will respond to. I also ask if anyone has read the novel, and to share their thoughts if they have read it.

For today's Friday Favorite, I poll students on "Favorite Monster": Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts, Zombies, Wendigoes, or Possessed Baby Dolls. This gives me a chance to tell one of my favorite "ghost stories" that we did not get to on Halloween, the Wendigo (Warning, hammy story-telling ahead).

I allot ten minutes to today's intro because students will have a lot to share about their favorite monster, and this gives them time to listen to a story as it's told, rather than just read one. While not a 9-10 level Core Standard, the practice will benefit them as we continue collaborative discussions.


Small-Group Analysis: "Expert-Level" Discussion

35 minutes

Student reading of all of the Fireside poems is due today. With one final day switching between whole-class discussion, Jigsaw Groups and Expert Groups, students have worked in multiple settings. Today's small-group discussion puts a capstone on the Romantics by wrapping up their collaborative product--their Book Cover Posters--as well as the students' individual understanding of each poem. Students should be able to identify how each poem expresses the elements of Fireside poetry, as well as have an understanding of the poetic devices used within the poems. Students should also know which others in the class are experts on particular poems, and go to them for clarification or study assistance. Today's question, "How do you feel about playing in the snow?" in particular, addresses the collaborative spirit of the Firesides, sharing ideas around a camp fire. 

Students move to their Jigsaw Groups in order to wrap up any work they need to complete from the Book Cover Posters

Once the posters are completed, students are to discuss the Expert Questions from each of their poems, in order to ensure they understand the poems themselves. The Experts on each poem lead this discussion, teaching the rhythm, rhyme, diction, and structure to their groups, in order to ensure understanding of figurative meaning, and how that meaning connects with or expresses the theme (elements of Romanticism) (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4). 

In addition, students should revisit "Snowbound" by John Greenleaf Whittier, and complete the Modeling Questions we began earlier in the week. As we have modeled these, students are familiar with what is expected in their answers; they must find the evidence to support analysis, as well as inferences drawn from the text (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1). Since students self-selected their groups, they have established the trust in each other to respond to specific questions from the poem, as well as the broader themes of Romanticism, as well as actively incorporate each other into the discussion and clarify, verify, or challenge each others' ideas and conclusions (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1c). 

As students hold their conversations, I circulate the room, monitoring progress on the encouraging their conversations, and offering any clarification needed on the questions. 


Wrap-Up and Extension

5 minutes

With five minutes remaining in class, I ask the students to return their desks to rows, pack up their belongings, and clean up the area around their desks. If there is any time remaining, I ask for quick reactions to the Expert Groups and Jigsaw Groups. To end class, I remind students that we will be discussing "Snowbound" as a whole class, as a formative assessment, in our next class. I give students five minutes as it's a Friday, and I know it will take them a while to get focused.