Main Ideas in "The Jabberwocky"

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Students will be able to analyze main ideas and the author's use of language in "The Jabberwocky" by reading, writing quickwrites, and acting out the poem.

Big Idea

"The Jabberwocky" comes alive through reading, writing, and performing.


10 minutes

Today's paragraph gives students an opportunity to practice capitalizing proper nouns.  It's a constant struggle for students to understand that yes, valley refers to a place, but it's not a specific place.  Mountain refers to a place, but it's only if it's Mount Helicon that it's capitalized. The word 'Greek' isn't a proper noun, but rather, an adjective that comes from a proper noun, so it is capitalized.


The apostrophes in today's paragraph are used to show possession.  Many of my students think that if you have an 's' at the end of the word, it needs an apostrophe. Many of my students are also calling apostrophes 'flying commas.' That's why we go over these things on a daily basis.


Poetry Reference Sheets

15 minutes

Rather than having students write notes on the common types of figurative language and poetic devices, I gave students reference sheets with the pertinent information. 


I created one reference sheet for figurative language.  It includes the terms allusion, symbol, simile, metaphor, hyperbole, idiom, personification, onomatopoeia, connotation, denotation, mood, imagery, alliteration, and assonance.


The second reference sheet contains terms specific to poetry.  It includes rhyme scheme, rhythm, caesura, enjambment, anaphora, and repetition.


I asked them to read the definitions of rhyme scheme, repetition, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and imagery with their groups.  I assigned new seats today, so they had brand new partners to read with.  So much excitement!


I briefly went over rhyme scheme and how one determines the rhyme scheme of an individual stanza.


I didn't bother to put things such as stanzas and lines on the reference sheet, but that was the first thing we talked about when I gave the students copies of "The Jabberwocky." 


I asked what a stanza was, and the students defined it as "like a paragraph" or "a group of lines."  Okay, great.  How many stanzas are there in "The Jabberwocky?"  Eighth hour had a bit of difficulty with the counting, but finally arrived at the number seven.


I asked students what they'd have to do if someone asked them to read line 19.  They said that they'd have to count down to line 19.  I told them that I was going to share a super awesome secret with them and they shouldn't tell anyone.  We numbered every five lines and I showed them how they could count up or down from the sets of five lines to easily find line 19.  Magic!


Reading for Key Ideas and Details in "The Jabberwocky"

15 minutes

"The Jabberwocky" is a perfect way to start off a poetry unit.  It's filled with nonsense words which helps students understand that even if they don't understand all the words, they can construct their own understanding.  It provides a way to review rhyme scheme, onomatopoeia, alliteration, imagery, and repetition.


To begin, we started off with something crazy--reading the poem.  Poetry is meant to be shared aurally, and "The Jabberwocky" even more so, so I read the poem out loud. 


Then I read the poem again.  Before starting this second reading, I asked students to think about what they thought the narrator was trying to tell them, what they the narrator wants them to understand, and the details that help them understand those things. 










After this second read, I asked students to write a short paragraph (four to five sentences for Honors and two to four sentences for co-taught)  about the questions above. I gave them a few minutes to write, and then asked for volunteers to share their writing.

Here's some of the things they mentioned:

  • There's a boy who goes on an adventure.
  • The author wants me to understand what bravery is.
  • The author is telling me that anyone can be brave.
  • The Jabberwocky is a monster.
  • The boy has to kill a monster.


I asked them to cite their evidence, using lines from the poem. How do you know that the person in the poem is a boy?  In line 5, the father (or father figure) calls him "son" and in line 22, he is referred to as "boy."


How do you know that the Jabberwocky is a monster?  In line 6, we learn that this creature has "jaws that bite" and "claws that clutch".  Line 14 says that the Jabberwocky has "eyes of flame."


How do you know that the boy kills the Jabberwocky? Lines 17 and 18 (stanza 5) says "One, two! One, two! And through and through/The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!"  These line suggest that the boy is using his sword (blade) to cut the Jabberwocky.  Line 19 clearly says that "he left it dead."  This lead us to a discussion of what the boy did with the Jabberwocky's head after he killed the monster.  The placement of the comma is critical to understanding the meaning.  Consider the difference:

  1. He left it dead, and with its head/He went galumphing back.
  2. He left it dead and with its head/He went galumphing back.


The placement of the comma in Sentence 1 suggests that the boy took the Jabberwocky's head with him when he went running back home.  Sentence 2 suggests that the boy left the Jabberwocky dead with its head and went running home empty-handed. The meaning of this stanza hinges on one comma, one tiny punctuation mark. 


After our brief discussion, I asked students to add a few sentences to their quickwrites, about three to four sentences.


Analyzing Craft and Structure in "The Jabberwocky"

15 minutes

I asked students to read the poem again, this time noting and annotating how the author uses repetition, onomatopoeia, alliteration, imagery, and rhyme scheme. Here comes the inevitable "Can we use our resource sheets?"  Absolutely.


I gave students a few moments to try to find the rhyme scheme, repetition, onomatopoeia, alliteration, and imagery by themselves before going over it. 


We started with rhyme scheme, then moved on to repetition, alliteration, imagery, and then onomatopoeia.

After we went over the figurative language and poetic devices, I asked students to write  another short paragraph about the language the author used in the poem.  I told them that I knew that there were words that they didn't know (jubjub bird, tumtum tree, bandersnatch), but at this point right now, how does the author use figurative language and rhyme scheme?  This paragraph served as closure for today.











Lesson Resources

Today's lesson picture is the first stanza of Lewis Carrol's "The Jabberwocky."