Interpreting Meaning: Poetry Workstations

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SWBAT understand that using text details to make inferences can help when interpreting the meaning of a poem.

Big Idea

Understanding Poetry isn't easy, but with differentiated, collaborative practice it can be fun!

Introduction and Expectations

5 minutes

Today students will continue working on interpreting the meaning in poems and answering the essential question,"How does a reader interpret the  meaning of poems?" By this point students should be able to say that readers can reread to clarify meaning. Readers can interact and write thoughts while reading poems. Readers can write down places where they connect to the ideas. Readers can also read first to get an overall impression of the poem and then start jotting down questions that pop up from that initial reading. 

I'll review the Interpreting Meaning Workstations Chart with students. I always start off telling them their tasks, their expectations, and where I will be collecting work, etc. 

Teacher Station: Students will work more closely with Love That Dog in this station today. We're going to focus on how the rhythm and structure help us interpret meaning and also some inferencing. In the novel, Jack attempts to understand "The Tiger," and when he can't, he just enjoys the sounds. CCSS RL.5.1 asks students to use the text to make inferences, so we'll definitely fit some of that in. I also want to have a discussion about whether some people just like to listen to poetry because of how it sounds. Do they have to try to find the meaning? I'm hoping kids can refer back to Billy Collin's poem about putting your ear to the hive instead of torturing a confession out of the poem. 

Get In Line-  In this activity, students have to take the lines of The Arrow and The Song and/or Autumn Fires and put them in the correct order. They have to think about the deliberate decisions the poet made in structuring the ideas. By focusing on a poem’s structure in this activity (RL5.5), students will hopefully recognize that thinking about structure is important to comprehending poetry. Students will choose one of each of the following poems and try to put the lines back in order. Emphasize that the goal is to arrange the poem exactly as the poet did. There are some clues included to help if needed. I like this activity because when we read fiction, we use the author’s ideas and structure to predict what might happen next, so readers of poetry should do that too! This can cause students to think more deeply about how the poet is shaping the ideas.

Lyric Compare: To plant the seed for theme (RL 5.2) and to continue thinking about meaning(RL 5.4), students will compare the lyrics of two songs. I chose songs that students wrote down in previous lessons. I found two with common meanings; Counting Stars by One Republic and Better Life by Keith Urban. Students will read and annotate these songs and then determine a common meaning with evidence and explanation. 



45 minutes

Students will work collaboratively in their groups for 15 minutes at a time. 

Here is how I support students in the Teacher Workstation.  To start off the group, I'd tell students something like Readers make inferences as they read by combining clues from the text with their own knowledge.  What do you remember about inferences?  Review and discuss. In the reading today, Jack will show his confusion about a poem, but appreciates something about it. You will read pages 8-9 and record your thoughts on sticky notes. We'll review your annotations and then try reading the poem that Jack found difficult. 

Have students read pages of Love That Dog 8-9 silently. While they read, you can monitor students annotations, have someone read to you if you have fluency issues, or any other need your kids have.  Once students have finished (this will not take long), let students share their thoughts. There isn't too much "meat" here, but I want my students to wonder about Jack's poem specifically. I'm hoping they'll start asking about the importance of the blue car and the fact that it was speeding. Then I'll ask if they're ready to read the poem that gave Jack trouble. 

Say to students We're going to read "The Tiger" to see if we can 1. understand why Jack was confused, 2. see why Jack liked the sounds, and 3. try to figure out the meaning. I'll read aloud to be sure you hear the rhythm. We're only going to read the first two stanzas of the poem, as this is a very deep poem and thinking about the whole thing would take us a great deal of time. Read the first two stanzas aloud and then ask students if they can understand why Jack was feeling so confused. Discuss briefly.

Then ask what they think of the rhythm. Can they hear the beat-beat-beating that Jack heard? Give students some time to discuss. You could use this time to discuss that Jack used repetition in his writing and probably didn't realize it. I like to have normal conversations about poetic elements instead of strict memorization of terms. I find that the more we discuss them and use the vocabulary in those discussions, the more my students remember them. I don't plan to go into iambic pentameter and such because this isn't essential for 5th graders to know at this time, but I do want students to think about how that rhythm effects adds to the poem. Ask students Do you think that rhythm makes the poem better? Does it help you understand it better? Do you think the author chose that beat for a reason. There are no right or wrong answers here; just driving home that we need to think like the writer just as much as we think like a reader. 

Before ending the group, I try to see if students can find the meaning of the poem. This is a deep poem about how beautiful yet deadly the tiger can be and what kind of God could create something like it. I don't think this conversation my students could handle, so I just plan to see if they can understand the basic beauty yet deadly piece. I'm actually thinking of using some of Jack's reaction to the poem as a discussion point that sometimes we may just need to listen to the beauty of the poem. Not every poem is meant to be read and dissected. And this is certainly not the type of poem I would use as a formative or summative piece. Here is one response I had about the poem. 

Lyric Compare: Here are a few shots of my students in this group. One group hadn't read the directions, so I intervened. The other  group was doing pretty well. I have to monitor the workstations all the time. No matter how well-behaved my kids are, they will miss something from time-to-time and these station aren't busy work. They are independent times for the kiddos to practice and apply skills they are learning. I need to make the most of the time the kids are in these stations. 

Get In Line: Here are some students working together to put the lines of the poems together in order. 

 When the rotations are over, open the class to a discussion about how the workstations went. Ask students to reflect on their behavior and focus during the stations, how they worked with peers, etc. Lead students in thinking about what they might do differently next time and discuss ways that you could improve stations in the future.