What's Your Line? Close Reading of Selected Lines from the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern Periods

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SWBAT use reader response techniques to connect to poems from the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern periods of British literature.

Big Idea

One line at a time = the meeting of self and literature.

Teacher to Teacher: Lesson Context and Time Frame

In the first lesson, students composed poems about themselves by completing a copy change of "Where I'm From" by George Lyon. 

Today, in Lesson 2 of a two-week poetry unit, students interact with British Poetry from the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern literary periods. To accomplish this, students

  • Participate in a line tossing activity, 
  • Create two-person poetry skits with their lines,
  • Pick a poem from the Romantic, Victorian, or Modern era by picking a line from the line tossing activity.

Casting Lines of Poetry

10 minutes

Begin the lesson w/ a line-tossing activity. Poetry Line Tossing.mp4 explains how to prepare the lines for the activity.

To begin the lesson, distribute lines from the poems students will be working with to students. Line tossing lines are from poems from the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern eras of British poetry, and with few exceptions, they are poems in our textbook, although students don't yet know this.

I tell students they will read their lines and then mill around the room sharing the lines with their classmates. I also participate in the activity with students so that I can hear how they read, answer questions for students, and model how to read and interpret poetry. 

Students get out of their seats and begin sharing their lines until they have shared with most of their classmates. 

After line tossing, students use the Poetry Line One-Minute Essay prompt as a way to respond to their lines, which we see in One-Minute Essay Response (Student 1).

Lend Me Your Line: Responding to and Exchanging Lines

10 minutes

After the initial line tossing, I ask students to exchange lines with someone sitting close to them. 

They exchange lines, and then we repeat the line tossing activity, only this time for a shorter period of time. 

Once again, students use the sentence starters to respond to their lines: One-Minute Essay Sentence StartersOne-Minute Essay Response (Student 2) and One-Minute Essay Response (Student 3) show student responses to their lines. 

Next, I ask students to share some of their responses to their lines, and we begin to discuss whether or not students like their lines. 

Poetry Play: Pairing Up to Present Poems

30 minutes

Poetry is all about the way writers play with words. To assist students in their understanding of this play, we turn our attention to creating poetry line skits. I give the students instructions:

You are to pair up w/ another student to create a skit from your lines. You may divide the lines in any way you wish, and you may exchange lines. You may not, however, change the words in any way. That is, you may not use a synonym for a word or add new words. You may use props and/or costumes if you so desire. I will give you five minutes to create and practice your skit. Remember, you are creating a skit, which implies moving your body and using your voice to convey meaning in the lines. Most importantly, you need to have fun! 

I ask for a volunteer and demonstrate how to change and split the lines and how to add movement to the lines so that they become a skit. 

I set the timer and mill among the students so that I can respond to their questions and reassure them that it's okay if they're a little nonsensical in their performances. 

Next, we present our skits for one another. As the images show, some of the pairs really got into the performance aspect of the activity. Poetry Pair Skit (1) and Poetry Pair Skit (2) show students in poetry poses as they perform their skits. 

I played around with these two images using an app on my iPad Mini and created the sepia-infused montage Poetry Line Skits.

Pick a Poem by Picking a Line

10 minutes

At the end of the lesson, students decide whether or not to keep their lines or exchange them for new ones. I tell students that the lines are from poems they will work with for the remainder of the unit, so it's important that they like their lines. 

Most decide to keep the lines they have, and a few moan because they want their original lines back. A couple of students decide to trade, so I allow them to pick a new line from those remaining. 

Next, I write the number of each student's line down on the original document. This will allow me to identify the poem after class and distribute the complete poem to each student in the next class.