Poetry: Structure and Meaning

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SWBAT describe how words and phrases have rhythm and interpret their meaning.

Big Idea

How do you analyze poetry for structure and meaning ?

Introduction to Structure and Meaning

20 minutes

It is important to analyze poetry text in order to learn the structure and meaning of poems.  I introduce this lesson, like all my lessons, with a Flip chart: Structure and Meaning in Poetry that assesses prior knowledge and provides background information.  We begin discussing the structure of poetry.  In previous lessons, I discussed the following poetry terms:  stanza, verse, couplet, line.  In this lesson, I take it further by analyzing line and verse patterns, punctuations, rhymes, etc.

To teach to the Common Core, I need to make my instruction all about building critical thinking skills in students.  By analyzing text and discussing the author's strategic use of text structure, students begin to read critically.  Furthermore, I ask students to decipher the meaning of text, both literally and figuratively.  Figuratively interpreting meaning with depth can only be attained by scaffolding from its literal meaning.  Students learn to interpret meaning that goes beyond literal text.

Text Analysis

20 minutes

I ask students to analyze poems both in text and video, in their cooperative groups. We review the expectations of the cooperative groups as we view the Cooperative Groups Flip Chart. Students are to summarize the literal translation of their poems.  Then, they are to articulate a second summary that explains a deeper, more figurative translation of their poems.  Since the latter is a more abstract concept, I decided to group students in teams of four to six students to allow more critical thinking and collaborative discussions.  I am circulating to assist as needed. At the end of this activity, students prepare to orally present their literal and figurative summaries to the class.

Due to the abstract and complex nature of the tasks, I supply my students with samples that I downloaded online of final products:  example 1 and Example 2.  Also, I distribute two graphic organizers per team:  Graphic Organizer- Literal vs. Figurative language and under the surface meaning chart.png so they can visualize and map as they begin their collaboration.

Share our Findings

20 minutes

      Students gather to share their thoughts and ideas regarding the literal and figurative translation of their poems.  Others chime in their ideas as well and whether they agree or disagree with the meaning of the poems.  A group of students watched the video Narration of The Giving Tree - by Shel Silverstein.  Our Discussion: Literal and Figurative Meaning revealed student insights into the deeper meaning of this poem. Members of that group explained the literal translation of the tree who gave the boy all she had.  They also gave a deeper interpretation of its theme that some people try to win favor or buy friendship through giving.  Furthermore, they explained that sometimes friends will take too much from you and are never satisfied. This abstract reasoning skill is essential to the Common Core curriculum.  Learning to interpret deeper meaning in poems require higher order thinking.