Whenever possible, I begin my lessons with silent, independent reading. During this time, I actively monitor their reading progress by checking their out-of-class reading logs and engaging in reading conferences that cover a variety of topics.
To find ways to enact this section, please see my strategy folder.
Today, students will be reading a genre specific text: novels written in verse. I circulate to stamp/check-in homework. I'll go over the homework in more detail after our discussions, since they need to add something to their responses after the discussion.
For poems 9 & 10 in the tournament, "The Butterfly" and "The Summer of Black Widows," I assign a Poet Analysis.
Kids can decide which poet they would like to research, based on "The Summer of Black Widows" & "The Butterfly," presented during the tournament, written by poets Sherman Alexie and Pavel Friedman.
I check out my school laptops for the day and inform kids they'll be conducting a mini-research project on either of these poets. I also allow them to work in partners of their choosing. I present them with the Poet Analysis sheet, and go over the Poet Research: What are we looking for?
The purpose of this assignment is so students can unlock deeper meaning in a poem by uncovering more about the writer. For example, Pavel Friedman, writer of "The Butterfly," died in the Holocaust. Students quickly realize the setting of this poem through their research, and ultimately infer that Friedman never made it out of the concentration camp. I love this assignment. Kids become very invested in their research and the research becomes almost a key that unlocks meaning in these two poems.
Here are two Poet Analysis Samples:
In the final portion of the period, we discuss our research based findings about the authors of "The Summer of Black Widows" & "The Butterfly" (Poems 9 & 10).
I pose the question:
How does the research deepen your understanding of the poems? How has your interpretation of these poems changed?
We discuss Student Sample: Tournament Poems 9 & 10 homework responses, but most importantly, we try to determine how the research has made these responses more rich.