Skill 3: Poetry Analysis

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SWBAT determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in poetry by reading, annotating and analyzing "Half-Caste" by John Agard.

Big Idea

Poetry is the best tool for teaching the nuances of language. Let's see how a poet treats the topic of imperialism.


10 minutes

We will start class with ten minutes of reading today. I will read with my students. 

How to Read a Poem: "Half-Caste" Reading and Anlaysis

18 minutes

I have definitely not done enough poetry in my class given the traditionally high emphasis on poetry on our state test. I will be doing more poetry with a few upcoming units, so I'm not too concerned that they will leave my class with out any poetry analysis, but I do feel moderately bad that I haven't done much prior to the test. Such is the nature of the teaching life. 

To at least give them at brief refresher on some basic poetry reading techniques, I will have students read "Half-Caste" by John Agard using a modified version of the TPCASTT method of poetry analysis. I am using this poem to continue our thematic analysis of imperialism (Agard is a South African poet discussing his life as in modern England). Since theme is my main focus, TPCASTT seems to be the best method as well. It is a simple and easy to use guide for poetry analysis that focuses students on reading the poem for the literal and figurative meaning all with the purpose of determining theme or message. Using this tool will allow me to assess how well students are able to understand the theme of the poem (RL.9-10.2), which they will need to be able to know for their comparative essay writing tomorrow. 

I will guide them through this reading process in three steps, using a Powerpoint for instructions and images.

  • Step 1: Before I hand out the poem, I will continue our vocabulary lesson from yesterday by having them look at the pictures projected. Each image is taken from the poem and I want to see if they can come up with a definition of half-caste prior to reading based on these visual clues (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4). I will ask students to share out orally what they notice about each picture (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1). Once we've seen all three, I will ask them to compare/contrast the images and to tell me what they think half-caste means. 
  • Step 2: I will hand out the poem and ask students to annotate as we listen to the poet reading his words. I am asking them to listen to Agard in place of a cold reading because I think they will benefit from hearing his accent as they negotiate the dialect in the poem. As they listen, I will just ask them to follow along on their papers. The recording is linked in the Powerpoint. 
  • Step 3: I will review the steps of TPCAST with the students and ask them to annotate the poem for each category. I will have them work independently on this task. I will remind them that they are trying to interpret the poem on both a literal and figurative level (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4 and CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5a) asking them to pay attention to John Agard's message about imperialism so they can compare him to Santha Rama Rau tomorrow. 


Wrap Up and Next Steps

2 minutes

I will not have a lot of time to wrap up class today, but I will remind them that they need to have both "Half-Caste" and "By Any Other Name" in hand tomorrow so they are prepared for our final skill review day, which will be a written comparison of these two pieces.