Words - Words - Words - How Many Ways Can We Describe Words?

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SWBAT...define the main ideas in the poems "Ripples" and "Words" to identify the theme and author's lesson in the poems.

Big Idea

Words can be used to help or to harm so we need to use them with care.

Creating the Purpose

5 minutes

I start the lesson by reading the poem  "Ripples" and asking students what the author was trying to say with his words? Why is it important that we chose words that help others? How does making someone feel good have a ripple effect?

I then show students the poster of Word art rage and ask them what words they see. As they respond I ask them what that words means to them? How the word makes them feel? Where they have seen the word before? How they have seen the word being used?

I then ask them if words can be weapons? For this one students respond "no" initially and then as others contribute begin to see that they can be hurtful. It's amazing to see how they connect to the pain words have caused them in the past. Sad to take them here, but necessary to help them relate to the deeper meaning of the poem in the lesson. I share a Word cloud worksheet one student did in the previous lesson and ask what is rage? and what creates rage?

I introduce that we are going to evaluate the poem "Words" by Ann Sexton to learn how she describes how words can be used and the feelings they can cause.    

Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

I share that we use words to communicate and share how we feel about things or people. I ask students to share ways we communicate with words and chart these on the board. I then ask how important is it to watch what we say with these sources? (text, email, Twitter, etc.) Have you ever said anything you regretted? Has anyone said anything that hurt your feelings? Can you erase the feelings caused by what was said?

I then pass out the Words by Ann Sexton poem and share that the author begins the poem stating in the first stanza "Be careful of words, even the miraculous ones." I then ask what she meant by this sentence. I want to see which students connected our discussion with her feelings about the cautions of using words carefully and the pain they can cause.

I then read the rest of the stanza and share that the second part of the stanza seems to be more positive when she uses the words "leave not a sting but a kiss" because I know kisses are nice and are given to show someone you care about them. I want students to understand that she is starting the tone of the poem by sharing how words can be harmful or helpful. I write this on the projected chart under main ideas section. 

I read the next stanza and ask what could have been meant by "good as fingers" - I take students responses and think aloud using their responses and share that fingers are always there and are something we can count on to get our work done. I read the next line and share with students how the next line supports this definition with "trusty as the rock".

I ask students to work with their partners to define the next stanza and write the main idea in the text box. We share responses - if they got it I move them to independent work - if not give them another stanza to discuss.     


Independent Learning

20 minutes

I ask students to complete the rest of the Words by Ann Sexton poem independently - those who struggle can still be paired or work with you in a small group. 

I walk around and check for understanding.  My students struggled with the stanzas seven and eight and I needed to share how to describe the meaning using connections to the phrases "aren't good enough" and "wings like wrens".

Those who finish early use whiteboards to write words that are important to them. They will use this in the next section to create a word art picture using the word generator program.

Closing the Loop

5 minutes

Before I tell them about the next word generator activity, I ask them to share their author's message in the poem. We debate the strongest message and why she would teach readers that lesson about words. I have them relate back to a time words made them feel hurt or happy and why those memories stick with them for so long.

I then ask them to share their understanding of the poem and responses to the questions. They struggled with understanding when words speak louder than actions. 

My final question is regarding the "wearing your heart on your sleeve" and what this means. I want student's responses to this to assess their understanding of idioms and proverbs for the next unit. From what I heard and helped with they struggle with understanding figurative meanings vs literal meanings - I have some lessons to plan for! 

We have computers following the unit so students take their word lists to the computer center to create word pictures using the wordle website.