"Message in a Poem"

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SWBAT annotate poems to generate supported ideas for poet's message.

Big Idea

Synthesize Messages in poems by same author.


10 minutes

Start by handing out the two poems Dreams and A Dream Deferred, by Langston Hughes. The students will read and annotate each poem in today's lesson.

Guided Practice:

Read "Dreams" to students.  Tell students to draw pictures of what the words suggest in the margins of the poem.  

Next read the poem "A Dream Deferred" to the students.  Ask them to underline words that seem to carry important visual information and to draw the pictures they see in their minds.  Have students share their drawings.

Before sending students off to work independently, show the bottom part the poems on the document camera.  Say, "The reason we read a poem several times is so that we can uncover what the poem means to us based on the words and images the poet chooses.  

I want you to remember back to the poem by Billy Collins titled Introduction to a Poem.  As readers, we want to understand the meaning of the poem by reading closely and supporting our ideas with evidence from the text.

It is helpful to absorb the meaning over several readings.  Studying the poet's word choice and the images the words create is a great way to determine the message of the poem.

After you have worked with the poem by underlining powerful phrases and words, and drawn pictures to capture the images the poem suggests, I want you to think about Langston Hughes message in each poem.  To support you in this task I have created a place for you to reflect on the message of the poem at the bottom of the page.

It says at the bottom of each poem, "After reading and illustrating the poem I think Langston Hughes's message is ______ because in the poem it says ____________." 


Ask if they have any questions.  Clarify any questions the students might have, then send them to their seats to work independently.


Independent Work

25 minutes

Allow students to work independently.  They will read, underline important words and phrases, and draw pictures of the images the words suggest to them.

The next step for the students is the most important, they need to understand that the poet uses figurative language to express emotions and ideas.   

As I confer with students and table groups I will check for understanding of the line, "Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die Life is a broken winged bird

Ask, "What does the line that can not fly refer to?"

"What do you think the line  'Life is a barren field Frozen with snow" might mean?  Why?




10 minutes

After the independent work period, select several students to read either of the  poems to the class.  They will show their drawings and read what they think the poet's message is and cite the evidence they chose from the poem.

Students will reflect on what they wrote and either agree, suggest a different interpretation, or revise their thinking based on what they heard during the discussion.