Creating Acronyms to Formulate Opinions and Using Textual References as Evidence

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SWBAT evaluate the quality of a poem by using textual evidence to defend their opinions.

Big Idea

Do you know why I like this poem? I will show you my reasons!

Standards Alignment + Introduction

During yesterday's lesson, my students worked on mastering W.4.1 and SL.4.3. Today, I want to assess whether my students can identify what a text says explicitly and draw inferences from the texts to make their judgments about the text. They will be forming opinions about the text (RL.4.1) and writing about these opinions using evidence from the text (W.4.1). Though W.4.1 and RL.4.1 are not 9th grade skills, as a Language Arts Teacher at a transfer school I must establish a starting point for my students because they have gaps in their knowledge as well as their skills. Filling in the Gaps Using Elementary and Middle School CCSS Writing Standard:

They must be able to refer to details and examples in a text as they start building their inferencing skills. Then, we can start working on citing evidence from the text RL.6.1 as they make their inferences.

Even though my students will be completing a 4th grade CCSS reading and writing skill, they will be reading one of Emily Dickinson's Life Poems, Poem #30, which is on a 6th Grade Reading Level according to Lit2Go.

For today's lesson, I will be reviewing two terms discussed in the prior lesson, JUDGMENT and CRITERIA. I will be introducing ACRONYM, EXPLICIT and IMPLICIT as well. We will be looking at terms such as CONJUNCTIONS, TRANSITIONS, PROPER NOUNS, DASHES, and PERSONIFICATION. Looking at domain-specific vocabulary is aligned with (L.9-10.6)

It is important for me to explicitly introduce the academic vocabulary in the lesson so that all of my students will understand the academic language they need to be using in the lesson. This is an accommodation for my ELL students as well. So, we will look at the predicted definition of a word as well as its dictionary definition (L.9-10.1d) as well as the understanding of figurative language (personification) in the text. (L.9-10.5)


10 minutes


For this part of the lesson, I ask my students to respond to the following journal entry

Read the poem given in class. At the end of reading the poem, you must make a judgment about the poem. Is this a good or a bad poem? If good, say WHY. If bad, say WHY. Explain your choice in your own words. 

"Faith" is a fine invention

When Gentlemen can see—
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency. 

Emily Dickinson
This task is aligned to W.4.1, write an opinion on a text and support your point of view with reasons and information. I  chose this poem by Emily Dickinson because it uses several forms of punctuation: quotation marks, dash, and uppercase letters for important nouns (Faith, Gentlemen, Microscopes and Emergency). In addition, it presents a word with multiple meanings, prudent. Prudent means wise, showing care for the future, smart, perceptive... I want to see how my students will respond to the poem without any prior context in terms of making a judgment, and to see how they would handle it instinctively. Embedded in my students' responses are hidden or implicit and well as stated or explicit criteria. Today, we will be focusing on identifying the explicit criteria as well as questioning the implicit criteria so that we can arrive at an explicit criteria.

Share + Engagement (Modeling)

20 minutes

Close Reading of Poem (Focus on Vocabulary):

Before the share, I will tell my students that their responses will reveal their explicit and implicit criteria for their judgments. Explicit means it is clear and implicit means it is hidden so we have to figure it out.

During the share, I will ask my students to read their responses from the Warmup. They will share their reasons and evidences (SL.4.3) and I will chart their responses. One of the things I will be doing is clearly identifying explicit criteria and labeling them for my students. I will be using sentence stems like "When you said, I am looking for what the poem means you are explicitly identifying meaning as a criteria for judging your poem" and "When you said the message is not clear, you are implicitly identifying the central idea or theme as a criteria for judging your poem."

I will ask clarifying questions to get students to identify either an explicit or an implicit criteria: "What criteria or guideline are you using to determine that this is a good/bad poem?"

Results of the the Share: Share (Pt. 1) and Share (Pt. 2)

After the Share, I will start the Engagement by addressing their challenges with the poem, "Faith" by Emily Dickinson which normally surrounds the presentation of the words. This leads us to identify a critical criteria for our analysis. So, this criteria is indirectly driven by the teacher. I will ask them which words in poem have they not seen before. Then, I will ask them which punctuation in the poem have they not seen before.  Through their responses, I will be able to identify our use of RL.4.1 as we will be referring to details and examples in the text as they make their inferences. Then, I will talk about the strategies writers use to make familiar words look unfamiliar (use of uppercase letters for nouns (Faith, Emergency, Gentlemen, Microscopes), use of quotation marks for "Faith", use of a dash (---) and the transition word (but). We will look at the punctuation and the use of the transition word "but" along with the dash. Then, we will examine the meaning of the first couplet in relation to the second couplet.  We will look at the predicted definition of the word fine based on colloquial usage and we will compare this predicted definition with that of the dictionary (L.9-10.4d). I will also make mention of the personification as well (microscope is prudent/wise). (L.9-10.6)

In addition, I will discuss the fact that Emily Dickinson is from Amherst, Massachusetts. She lived during the 1800's or 19th century. She used punctuation to create conflicting thoughts in the mind of her readers. She used very simple language for the most part, and when she chose complex words they oftentimes had multiple meanings. She loved personification as she used effectively as a literary device.


20 minutes

I will have my students form pairs or groups of three. Then, I will show my students several poems. After they have looked at the poems, I will have them select the poem that they feel is the most interesting.  I will ask them to give their reasons for choosing the poem and to record their reasons. After my students record their reasons, as a class, each pair or group will share and I will chart their ideas. We will use the notes from our charts to create additional criteria which we will add to the criteria to those they created so far for evaluating a poem. (RL.4.1 and W.4.1). The criteria can be found at the bottom of  Chart #1 and Chart #2 from the Share.

I am allowing my students to use their thoughts to create their own evaluation criteria because it gets them to think critically about the judgments they make. they need to recognize that their judgments are opinions, and these opinions are based on their hidden beliefs.

The poems I selected are "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou, "Do any black children grow up casual?" by Harmony Holiday, "In the Event of My Demise" by Tupac Shakur and "Dear March-Come In-" by Emily Dickinson.

I selected these poems because they represent a diverse collection of poetry which speaks to multiple interests, and my students like to have options when making decisions. I wanted to see how many students from the class would consider the Emily Dickinson poem after our class discussion about the poem. It is not a typical poem that they would select on their own, but an underlying purpose of today's lesson is to have them stumble upon an interesting text without realizing that the lesson was designed to somewhat lure them to choose the text.


10 minutes

Students will work together to form an acronym for their criteria using W.I.S.E., a word from the .

I chose the letters for the acronym because it is a synonym for prudent which is a strange or unfamiliar word for many of my students. Therefore, in choosing to create an acronym with its synonym, we are reinforcing the meaning of the word and they will be able to commit it to memory. (W.4.1)

Students will use the list of the criteria they created and the letters of the word WISE to form an expression that represents their ideas.  


For homework, I will have the students do a Google or Yahoo search  for one of the poets in today's lesson. Then, I will instruct them to list ten things they found out about the author on loose-leaf. This task is aligned to (RI.3.5). I have chosen an elementary CCSS research skill because I want the task to be something they can accomplish on their own and I want to introduce the idea of using the internet as a research tool in a non-threatening manner.