Using TP-CASTT to Analyze the Poem "Lost Generation"

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SWBAT analyze the meaning of phrases, tone and mood of the palidromatic poem "The Lost Generation" by reviewing elements of poetry and using TP-CASTT

Big Idea

A poem read backwards can offer surprising discoveries of hope for students.


10 minutes


To create some curiosity in what is about to be taught, I first project Slide 1 of my Poetry Power Point Presentation onto a screen and ask students to read the slide and then discuss with a partner what they think the topic for this lesson might be?  

I then click to slide 2 and reveal the topic of Poetry.  I might hear some groans at this point because I understand poetry is the most unpopular genre of most high school aged students but I'm determined to help my students gain some appreciation for the power of words.  

I ask them to write the words Know and Want to Know (slide 2-3 in their journals and answer the questions.  After giving them few minutes to write their responses I write a Master List MP4 of their comments on a white board.  For the wrap up I will add what they learned. 

Building Student Knowledge

20 minutes

This is one of my favorite poetry lessons because I love watching students' reactions when they read and re-read this poem, Lost Generation.  First a little background on the contemporary poet, Johnathan Reed:

Jonathan Reed won second place in AARP's video contest launched in 2007 for his video, Lost Generation. Contestants were asked to create a 2-minute video describing their vision of the future; what life would be like by the time they turned 50. Reed was inspired by the Argentinian political advertisement "The Truth" by RECREAR.

I select this poem to begin my unit on poetry because of the impact it can have on the reader. They may wonder why the poet would write such a depressing poem about society until they read it in reverse. This poem is an inspiring palindrome [word or phrase that can be read both forward and backwards] 


After the KWL I use a POETRY power point presentation on poetry to start a discussion about what poetry is as described by some established poets, (slides 4-5).  To create student curiosity, I then tell them that the next two stanza's are from a famous rap artist's poem who they are very familiar with and who was also a prolific poet.  I read the stanzas on (slides 6-7) ending with the rap artists name - Tupac Shakur.  We have a short discussion on the poem's tone and theme.

I then explain that slide (8) is a commentary on poetry from a past student, Maria.  Slides (10-15) explain how one can read poetry by making connections as well as a review of poetic terms which I ask them to write in their journals.  These poetic terms are also posted on our Word Wall to be referred to during my lessons.

Before we read and analyze the poem, Lost Generation, I review the TP-CASTT organizer which helps students analyze poetry by citing evidence RI.9-10.1 in the poem:

  • Title
  • Paraphrase
  • Connotation
  • Attitude
  • Shifts
  • Title and 
  • Theme



Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

I pass out a TP-CASTT organizer and the poem and ask students to predict what this poem is about considering its title, Lost Generation.

Now it's time for them to read of the poem, The Lost Generation. I play this video and ask students to read to themselves as I read it out loud. I pause the video after the first reading asking students to put into their own words what the poem is literally saying.  I then continue the reverse reading of the poem (with the drastic change in the musical score) and watch my students' reactions to the major shift in tone. 


After a brief discussion on the poems shift,  I ask students to use the TP-CASTT to analyze the poem by determine the meaning of words and phrases in the poem, including figurative and connotative meanings and the cumulative impact of the words read in reverse as required in standard RI.9-10.4.

As students fill out their TP-CASTT, I circulate among them asking questions to determine understanding, Title and Shift as required in RL.9-10.10.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

Group Share

For the group share I ask one student to read what they wrote for one section of the TP-CASTT until we complete all the sections.  I point out the power of words in poetry and ask students a final question, "Which generation do you belong in?"  I ask this question to create relevancy to the author's message.