At the start of class, I circulate to check-in the first night of poetry homework with a sticker.
Each day, students will come prepared to discuss their nightly homework poems. After they answer the three questions:
1) What is this poem about?
2) Where is the figurative language?
3) What is one thing you like about this poem?
Then, each day, we go over one of the three questions in depth. These can be formatted as whole group discussions or smaller group. With the poem, "Living with Mistakes," I often start off with the over-arching question: Has anyone in the room ever made a really, really awful mistake? I'm talking about the kind of mistake that after you make it, you stop and think, wow, I cannot believe I am even capable of something so horrible.
This question frames the entire discussion. Students are then able to make a more personal connection to the poem, which in turn increases its relevance. I often spend a large chunk of time on the first day of discussion simply listening to the stories of students. This hooks them immediately. When students make the connection that poetry relates to their every day lives, they begin to invest.
From there I try to scaffold an understanding that the entire poem, "Living with Mistakes", is personification. The things that won't wear boots are the mistakes!
As a class, we have a discussion about the poem "Legacies." With this poem, I like to ask the question, what do you notice about the way this poem looks, or is laid out on the page? What sets this poem apart from others is the grammar. It has no capitol letters, nor does it have any punctuation. Can students notice this on their own?
Often, I'll ask if anyone has a grasp of the definition of legacy. What is the root of the word? Do you notice a part of another word hidden inside? Many point to the word legend as their hint word. My follow up question for discussion is usually, what kind of legacies are the characters in this poem leaving behind? Are all of these legends intentional?
The final words of the poem are:
"and neither of them ever
said what they meant
and I guess nobody ever does"
This points us to an accidental legacy. Obviously, we can see that the grandmother wants to pass down the tradition of making rolls to her granddaughter. However, maybe this grandmother is also teaching her granddaughter to communicate in an unclear or indirect manner. We use the final lines of the poem to unpack this. It takes a lot for students to understand this.
During this unit, students will be accountable for finding a novel written in verse. Here is an excellent book list of suggested novels written in verse.
If I have more time, I would fashion a book walk and find other a variety of the titles from various libraries. Then I would ask students to preview the texts in the classroom to raise interest and excitement. I check in novels at the end of the week.
Today's silent reading is focused on students finishing whatever independent text they're currently reading, so they can shift their attention their to novels written in verse.
During this time, I circulate to question students about their novels written in verse choices. Which book are you leaning towards? Why?