I introduce students to Adelaide Crapsey, the American poet and creator of the cinquain. It is important to provide a little history of the inception of this form of poetry.
I use a Cinquain Flipchart that guides students through where they are in their knowledge of poetry and explores the areas of growth needed to reach their goal. This flip chart begins with our goal and assesses students' prior knowledge. It guides me in my teaching because I like to scaffold from where the students are to more complex goals.
In order to teach to the level of rigor that the CCSS demands, I scaffold learning goals to support students from their starting or entry points. This flip chart also has a movie embedded about the characteristics of a Cinquain. This movie serves as a cinquain video hook to draw students into the lesson. The superheros discussing a cinquain that will save the world from malnourishment captures students' attention and make a lasting impression. I like to use motivational hooks throughout my lesson so that students remain engaged in learning.
We discuss the features of cinquain poetry and view some examples. I introduce students to a Cinquain graphic organizer that reduces the guess work when writing their own. It is important to point out to students the features of Cinquain poetry as it relates to structure and rhythm since its pattern revolves around the number of words per line. Its specific use of adjectives, nouns, and verbs is a grammatical component unique to Cinquain poetry. Rhythm and meaning is influenced by its structure and conventions of chosen words.
Background knowledge is important for students to make sense of their learning. Students enter with different life experiences and knowledge into this lesson. Part of the flip chart is to assess what students already know. We share information from peers and the teacher to fill in the gaps so students understand the basic foundational knowledge of what characterizes a Cinquain poem. Common Core encourages this type of discussion and communication of knowledge through collaborative efforts. Depth in knowledge can only be attained once students dig deeper below the surface.
I pair students to create a cinquain using the Cinquain Template that was introduced in the first part of this lesson. I also make the videos shown on the introductory flip chart, explaining the Cinquain techniques, available to students so that they can discuss the video and add to their writing plan discussions as they collaborate with their partners. Students are paired because I like to hear discussions among students. As I circulate, I record their mini-discussions with my flip camera. Sometimes, I use their videotaped discussions, not just for my qualitative data as formative assessments, but also to play back to students so others can get ideas from discussions of others. It keeps the activity lively and engaging. I encourage students to collaborate and communicate knowledge to one another. Students need to practice articulating convincingly and inclusively in productive ways. I also like to encourage students to mingle with diverse partners as they practice to effectively listen, speak, read, and write together through collaborative efforts.
Creating their own poem requires students to use higher order thinking processes. Common Core is about the challenge to think deeper and out of the box. I ask students to perform the more rigorous task of "creating" their own poem. As noted on the hierarchy of Bloom's Taxonomy, creating uses higher order thinking processes. There is much more rigor to creating a poem than merely remembering, understanding, or applying what they learn from this type of poetry. Creating requires students to synthesize information, generate hypotheses, and develop new ideas that is relevant to them. Rigor and relevance are important elements in Common Core because students develop complex ways to problem solve as they explore metacognitive strategies. When students create solutions to perplexing situations, they further develops their skills and knowledge.
Our class conducted a Cinquain Student Poetry Reading so students can share out their Cinquain creation. Others react to their readings and give creative feedback. Effective feedback depends on the specificity of the critique. I use a Cinquain Rubric as a guideline for students to give feedback to their peers. Students address particular elements listed on the rubric to stay on topic. Also, a supportive classroom climate must be established so students can feels safe to learn from their mistakes.