Students Read Countee Cullen's “Incident” and “Saturday’s Child” and use TP-CASTT to Analyze Poems

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SWBAT identify and interpret themes and give supporting evidence from the poems by group discussion and using TP-CASTT organizer.

Big Idea

What was the "Incident" that Countee Cullen experienced at an early age and impacted his adult life?


10 minutes

Think of a time...

For my activator I want my students to make a meaningful connection to the the first poem, Incident by Countee Cullen,  that they will be reading and analyzing.  I ask them to think of a time when they where young and something upsetting happened that they still remember today.  I ask them to write the incident in their journals and that they can share it with a partner if they choose W.9-10.10.

After giving them 5 minutes to write down their childhood incident, I share an incident I had when I was in first grade concerning my teacher scolding me in front of the class for "cheating" on a math test. I share that I never forgot the embarrassment I felt and remember trying to explain that I was only asking for a friend for a sharpened pencil. I then ask if anyone would want to share their incident with the class.  

Building Knowledge

20 minutes

I begin the activity with a power point presentation which first introduces the poet, Who is Countee Cullen?  Slides #2-3 give a brief background of his education and poems he authored that were published in The Crisis.  After reading the slides I ask students to tell me what does this tell them about the author?  Answers will vary but I'm looking for responses such as, "He was well educated" "He was a prolific writer"  "The Crisis was a magazine from the Harlem Renaissance era."

Next I review the following poetic terms/devices that are either on the TP-CASTT organizer or in my power point analysis questions:

  • Allusion
  • Tone
  • Shift
  • Figurative Language
  • Theme
  • Interpretation

We have a group discussion of terms and ask students to write the definitions of the terms in their journals if they don't already have them written down. As we discuss them as we read the poems I will also refer to the words on an interactive word wall which is a word wall that I am referring to throughout my lessons.  I believe a word wall will become invisible to students unless they know it is there for the purpose of learning and your actions support this notion.

Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

Question and Answers

I pass out a copy of the poems Incident, and Saturday's Child and a double sided page of a TP-CASTT Poetry Analysis which they will use to analyze both poems.

I first ask students to read Incident to themselves as I read it out loud.  I then ask the students to identify the word that the speaker was called that may now have a different meaning among teens.  I then ask them to identify the use of Allusion.  After a brief discussion I click on slide #4 and ask students to compare their answers with mine.  I then ask students to identify the Tone and Shift in the poem by citing evidence to support their answers as required in standard RL.9-10.1.  Students are randomly chosen to share their evidence and answers with the class SL.9-10.1a.

I then display my answer on slide #4.  I repeat this question and answer process of analyzing figurative language, theme, RL.9-10.4 and the students' final interpretation of the poem after which I display my answers for them to compare their answers with.

Next I ask students to use their TP-CASST organizer to analyze the poem.  I explain that we've discussed many of the parts which will need to be answered.  I circulate among the students checking for understanding.

After giving them about 10 minutes to complete their TP-CASTT I ask them to read the next poem, Saturday's Child, as I read it out loud.  I explain that the old saying "Born with a silver spoon"  refers to a child that was born to wealthy family.  I repeat the same process ass with the first poem, Incident, asking analytical questions, briefly discussing and revealing my answers in the proceeding slides #7-9. Students are then asked to use the TP-CASTT to anlalyze Saturday's Child. I circulate among the students checking for understanding.


Wrap Up

10 minutes

Poetry Out Loud

As a wrap up I ask for student volunteers to read each stanza of one of the poems out loud to the class. The only direction I gave them was to read the poem slowly. Most of my students and adolescents in general speak rapidly, and a nervous reader will tend to do the same in order to get the reading over with. I explained that reading a poem slowly is the best way to ensure that the poem will be read clearly and understood by its listeners SL.9-10.1

I wasn't sure if any of my students would volunteer to read a poem out loud but I was pleasantly surprised.  As the two video clips illustrate the first reading was fairly "low key" Poetry Out Loud 1 In the second video clip they asked if they can "rap" the poem which I of course said, "Go for it!"Poetry Out Loud 2.