Analyzing Poetry about Beliefs: Using FACE to Uncover the Mask (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone and determine the theme of the poem, "We Wear The Mask" by using a belief-based literary criteria, FACE.

Big Idea

Will my beliefs about masks affect my judgment? Let's see the outcome!


View of My Classroom:

My students at PULSE love poetry.

Therefore, my goal for this unit is to get my students to learn to make judgments, and so far, my students and I created this maxim, "To make a judgment, you must have an opinion; to have an opinion, you must have a belief." - Ms. Fletcher's Class, PULSE High School, 2/12/14

In addition, I want my students to develop criteria as a basis for making these judgments. Embedded within these criteria will be a focus on literary analysis (RL.9-10.1 and RL.9-10.4). To meet the demands of CCSS, my students must be able to cite evidence from the text to support their beliefs. (RL.9-10.1) In addition, they will be focusing on the use of language (RL.9-10.4), specifically the words and phrases that reveal the speaker/narrator's attitude toward his topic/subject/issues (TONE) and the words or phrases that affect their emotions (MOOD).

Since RL.9-10.4 focuses on the use of language, my students will be provided with the definitions for words in the text of the poem: guile, mouth (verb), myriad subtleties, over-wise, sighs, nay, thee, arise, oh, clay, vile, otherwise. The choice to provide vocabulary for this activity may not be aligned with RL.9-10.4, but more than fifty percent of my students speak a language other than English for more than sixty minutes daily. Therefore, I employ several ELL strategies in my lessons. I provide precise vocabulary as well as academic language for my students.  Using precise vocabulary with definitions provides a canvas for us to explore multiple meanings of a word in future lessons.

This is the first of a two-day lesson. So, today's lesson (Day 1) will introduce some aspects of literary analysis my students may use to help them enhance the quality of their judgments. Since I introduced FACE as a teacher-created criteria for analysis, Focus, Audience, Content and Emotion, I will introduce the literary terms and devices in today's lesson and match them to the parts of the acronym that will apply so they will see how they may incorporate these tools when making their judgments. I will provide them with a glossary for the literary terms or devices as well. Since I am focusing mainly on beliefs today, I will reserve the traditional focus on historical information, writer's biography and context for Day 2.

Even so, my focus for today's lesson is for them to connect with the text of the poem based on their experiences creating masks and thinking about the purpose of masks. So, we will look at the modified Sentence Starters for FACE

Explicit academic vocabulary for this lesson will include JUDGMENT, CRITERIA, EXPLICIT, IMPLICIT, BELIEF, PERSPECTIVE, TONE, MOOD, 


Lesson Prep/Homework

 Making a Mask Part 1  is an activity given for homework that acts as an engagement for the lesson. It is not directly aligned to RL.9-10.4, but its purpose is to get students interested in wanting to know more about the mask which is a key symbol in the poem. The mask is a recurring image that is metaphoric and symbolic. So, I need my students to be able to identify with this image on a literal level before looking at it in a figurative way. Because most of our work at PULSE tends to be project-based, my students are familiar with the creation of physical objects which become conveyors of abstract thoughts in the lesson.

My students and I are creating masks because I want them to understand the process of covering the face and what it entails mechanically, physically and literally before we explore the literary or figurative meaning behind the mask. They are going through the process of forming their opinions about wearing masks because I want them to see that your opinions may change as you experience new things and I want them to form an opinion they will be using later in their analysis.

Students will be told they will start making a mask for homework using paper plates. The task for homework is to create cut-outs for the eyes. Students will be given scissors and pencils to carve the cut-outs for the eyes and they will use their partners as mirrors to help them to determine where best to cut for the eyes based on the shape of their faces.

Each student will be told to consider the following criteria when creating their masks:

1. The size and shape of the plate

2. The shape of your face

3. The layout of the plate against your face

4. The location of your eyes once the plate covers your face

Students will be provided with a picture of a face and they will label the parts of the face. They will determine which parts of the face are covered by the mask.

Students will bring their masks and the labeled face to class for today's lesson.




Warmup/Do Now + Share

15 minutes

Prior to the Warmup, I will reintroduce our maxim in the form of a banner: "To make a judgment, you must have an opinion; to have an opinion, you must have a belief" because I want my students to remember our achievements so far and to focus on the purpose of our lesson today.

Then, I will provide an example of a figurative mask that people wear and I will ask my students why do people wear it. Finally, I will ask my students what is the difference between the physical masks that they are creating and the figurative mask that I introduced in class. I will ask them what parts of the face are covered by the physical mask? What parts of ourselves do we cover with a figurative mask?

During the Warmup, I will ask my students to answer one of three questions. Students will choose based on interest and readiness. These questions will be available on the Warmup Feb 26 sheet

A mask is a covering for the face. It is worn to cover a part or all of the face. It is worn to hide a person's identity. Answer one of the three questions below based on masks.

1. Some cultures have masquerade balls. At the ball, the people attending wear a mask to cover their faces so you do not see them. Do you believe people should wear masks? Why? Why not? Explain in your own words. Write your thoughts on loose-leaf paper.

2. "Masks keep your true identity inside. We need masks to protect us from those who are trying to harm us. So, we should wear masks on our faces, on our hearts and on our souls." Explain the perspective or opinion presented in this quote in your own words. Write your thoughts on loose-leaf paper.

3. A person might be hurting badly, but he conceals it with a great, big smile. The "smile" is a mask. Can you think of a time in your life when you wore a mask? What kind of mask did you wear? Why did you feel you had to wear it? Explain in your own words.

I have deliberately chosen a concrete activity for the journal writing (W.9-10.10) because our school's pedagogical philosophy encourages us to work from concrete ideas to abstract ideas. This allows our students of mixed abilities and differing levels of readiness to have multiple points of entry in the lesson.

I am asking my students to explore one of these writing prompts through journal writing because I want them to start thinking about one of the conceptual ideas that will be presented in today's poem. In addition, I want them to start thinking about the connections between beliefs and perspective.

During the Warmup (10 minutes), I will be walking around the room helping my late students to settle in and to do a visual check on the student's progress. Some students may have quick questions that I will address as well.

During the Share (5 minutes), students will read their responses from their loose-leaf paper. Students will discuss the connection between belief and perspective.

Students will make an informal opinion on whether they would wear a mask. They will record their opinions on their loose-leaf paper.


10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, I will focus on the connotation of words in the poem which is aligned to RL.9-10.4. Students will be given several words as cut outs from the poem and they will assign each word to one of three categories: POSITIVE, NEGATIVE AND NEUTRAL. After they assign each word to a category, they must be able to give a reason for their decision.

Students will be working at their tables on chart paper. Each table will have CUT-OUTS of words from the poem and labels (POSITIVE, NEGATIVE AND NEUTRAL).

CUT-OUTS will include the following words:

pronouns: we, it, our them, us, thee (you); this, that

verbs: wear, grins, lies, hides, shades, pay, smile, mouth, counting, let, see, arise, sing, dream, be 

adjectives: human, torn and bleeding, myriad, over-wise, tortured, vile, long, article (the), only, great, 

nouns: mask, cheeks, eyes, debt, guile, hearts, subtleties, world, tears, sighs, cries, souls, clay, feet, mile

prepositions AND conjunctions: with, to, beneath    and, but, while, 

Interjections: O, Nay (no), oh

Adverb: otherwise (in a different way)

I will read the poem ALOUD three times. At the end, I will ask my students if they want to make any changes in their labels after hearing the poem orally. Then, I will give them time to make these changes.

I am choosing this activity because I want my students to start thinking instinctively of where they would place these words and to be able to give their reasons for their choice. This exploration forces student to examine the associations they give to words and to question where or even when they made these associations and incorporated their beliefs about the meanings of words. This is a great time for students to identify the words in the poem with which they are not familiar as well because they have to put these words under a label as well. In addition, I want to see whether hearing the words pronounced aloud three times will have any effect on the labels they give each word.

I will walk around to each group to observe how they are doing and to make a mental note of which students will need explicit definitions for the next activity, but I don't offer assistance because I want my students to follow their instincts.




25 minutes

For this part of the lesson, I will reintroduce our maxim "To make a judgment, you must have an opinion; to have an opinion, you must have a belief" because my students will be forming their opinions about masks using the poem as a guide. Since we will be exploring the author's beliefs, this activity is aligned to RL.9-10.2 as well; we will be examining the central ideas or themes as we investigate beliefs.

Since our focus as a school is inquiry-based learning, I allow my students to provide their opinions first. To begin, I will have my students write their opinions about wearing masks. Students will answer the question. Should people wear masks? Students may read "We Wear The Mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar again before writing their responses.

My students will review key vocabulary from the text of the poem  "We Wear The Mask": debt, guile, torn, mouth, myriad subtleties, over-wise, sighs, nay, thee, tortured souls, arise, clay, vile, otherwise. I will provide a list of tone and mood words on a handout for my students to use during the lesson as well.

Then, my students will use the following criteria to analyze the poem. They will work in pairs or groups to develop their responses, but each student will submit his or her own written response.

In pairs or in groups, students will use highlighters to identify the parts of the poem relevant to the acronym, FACE.

F = Focus (Subject/Topic/Issue/Ideas/Themes)

Consider the title and the first line. What is the issue the speaker/narrator is addressing? What is his position on the issue?

A = Audience (First Person Point of View + Speaker/Narrator)

Look for first-person pronouns in the poem and highlight them.

C = Content (What is in the text/line or lines of the poem? See list below)

(a) Structure (What is happening in each stanza or verse)

(b) Syntax (specific phrases or lines that stand put)

(c) Rhyme (words at the end of each line)

E = Emotions

(a) Tone -(what is the speaker/narrator's attitude toward the topic/issue?)

(b) Mood - Which words or phrases affect you emotionally? How would you describe your reaction to these words or phrases?

Students will work in pairs or groups. They will create a written response for each part of the acronym, FACE. They will use sentence starters to help them to create their responses.

 The use of the sentence starters is aligned to W.7.1b. This is not a 9th Grade CCSS, but it applies to the activity since students are using their judgments as claims and providing evidence from the text of the poem to support their opinions.

A. Students will choose 2 of the following Sentence Starters for Paragraph #1

Sentence Starters for Paragraph #1 (Focus and Audience)

I believe people (should, should not) wear masks because...

In the poem "We Wear The Mask" the speaker/narrator believes...

The speaker/narrator speaks to his audience from the first person point of view. I know it is the first person point of view because the speaker uses pronouns like... When the speaker uses these pronouns, it makes me feel...(write how you feel every time you hear the first pronouns in the poem.

I (agree, disagree) with the speaker or narrator because...


B. Students will choose 2 of the following Sentence Starters for Paragraph #2

Sentence Starters for Paragraph #2 (Content and Emotion

(Choose 2 of the 5 and provide evidence from the poem to support your point. My students will be choosing 2 of the 5 sentence starters because the time for today's application is 25 minutes as opposed to the daily 40 minutes).

1. The structure of the poem shows...(write what is happening in each stanza/verse)

  Each stanza/verse tells us people (should, should not) wear masks because...

2. The syntax of the poem illustrates...(write words or phrases that sound unique, out of the ordinary, interesting or strange)

The words or phrases in the poem like ______ and _____ emphasize why wearing a mask is a

(good, bad) idea because ...

3. The rhyme in the poem indicates...(write words that rhyme eg (eyes, wise); (clay, gray)

The words that rhyme makes the poem sound like _______. The speaker/narrator is talking about____________. This shows me that we (should, should not) wear masks because...

4. The tone in the poem conveys...(write how the speaker/narrator feels about the issue here). Choose a word from the Tone Words list to support your point.

5. The mood in the poem reveals...(write how you feel about the issue the speaker/narrator is talking about here). Choose a word from the Mood Words list to support your point.




10 minutes

Students will complete their paragraphs and fill out a 3-2-1 Reflection Sheet. I have chosen to end the lesson in this way today since our application period is shorter than normal so that those students who need more time writing will have an additional five minutes to complete writing.

I am using the 3-2-1 Reflection Sheet as an exit ticket because I want to know what students gained from the lesson, and I want to see whether the design of the lesson was effective. This helps me to craft Day 2's lesson to meet the needs and interests of my students.


3-2-1 Reflection Sheet:

3 things you learned in today's lesson



2 things you found interesting or want to learn more about from today's lesson



1 question you have about the text (poem) or activities in the lesson.