Applying Sound & Structure (2-day lesson)

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SWBAT analyze impact of sound and structure on a poem's form by reconstructing published poetry.

Big Idea

Can knowing about sound and structure help you reconstruct a poem?

Word Roots Warm-Up (Day 1)

10 minutes

Today, we work through more examples of our word roots in action.  Again, it is important that students copy the entire definition of the word so that they can use their notes to study.

Word Roots Warm-Up (Day 2)

10 minutes

Today is the fourth day of this unit, so it's time to take a formative quiz.  I have students take out a piece of scrap paper to do this.  The quiz is on the PowerPoint slide, and I just have students write the letter of the correct answer.  As this quiz is a self-evaluation, my main focus is the reflective writing on their Cornell notes.

After everyone is done with the quiz, we go over the answers as a class.  I make sure to mention the importance of learning these in small bites and not waiting until the night before the test to try to memorize them all.  I compare this type of studying to learning a foreign language.  We discuss memorization strategies such as flashcards.  (A great website for electronic flashcards is Quizlet)

Once everyone knows which ones they got right and wrong, I have students write a reflective paragraph on their Cornell notes.  I display the prompt slide while they write.  It is this writing that I use as an assessment for this formative classwork.


10 minutes

To begin today's lesson, I have students take out their Sound & Structure notes from yesterday.

With our "Is it a Poem" posters still displayed around the room, I ask students to think about the day we worked had a silent conversation on the posters.  I pose this question to the class:  Now that we have learned about how sound and structure can work in a poem, do you think you could do a better job of determining what is and is not a poem?  

This is my favorite part.  

Seventh graders pretty much know everything about everything.  Add to that a few terms and a little bit of practice, and at this point they are utterly convinced that they are poetry experts.  I love how many of them tell me that they could do an assignment like that again and get every single one right.

"Great!" I say.  Time to put your money where your mouth is!


Getting Down to Business

75 minutes

This activity can be found in Brian Moon's Studying Poetry, a fantastic book that helped me get excited about sharing poetry with students!

The task that students will work on over this class period and the next involved them doing some independent and silent partner work.  

The first thing they do is set up a sheet of paper for this assignment.  As I begin the explanation part of this task, I do make a list on the board to go with my explanations.  I find that seventh graders need verbal and written instructions, and then only half of them will wander to your desk to ask what they're supposed to do!  ;)

I then hand out the Thinking About Sound Task and Questions sheet.  I read the instructions to them as they follow along.  I will ask a few clarifying questions so that I'm sure students understand they are to write each of the texts with the poetic structure they think it had in its published form.

Then, they are to answer in complete sentences the part I questions.

We then look at the instructions for Part II.  I again ask a few clarifying questions to make sure that they understand they are to compare their poems to those of a neighbor.  They will answer the part II questions independently.  (Translation: This is not a partner activity. They are simply comparing their work to that of a neighbor).

Next, I explain how part III works.  They will come up to the front of the room and pick up a copy of the published poems.  Once they have compared their work to the published poems, there are a few more questions to answer in complete sentences.

When we are about 2 minutes from the end of class, I collect all of their materials (except for their papers), so that they can finish tomorrow.


Did They Get It?

5 minutes

This assignment is a formative assessment.  I want to see that they're making an effort to engage with the poetry.  I'm looking for evidence that they thought about how the poem was supposed to look and that they thought about how sound and structure influenced their choices and those of the poet.

Before collecting the responses at the end of the second day, it's fun to do a little survey.  I'll ask for shows of hands for things like:

  • How many of you got really close on (insert name of poem here)?
  • How many of you had a poem that was really similar to a neighbor's? 
    • To any student with a hand up:
    • Which poem? 
    • What was similar?  
    • Why do you think it was similar?
  • How many of you were way off from a neighbor's version of a poem?
    • Which poem?
    • Why do you think your versions were so different?


Informal polling like this is always fun because it lets kids see that they are on track when compared to others.  Some like seeing that they're doing about the same as everyone else, and others really like being different from everyone else.  Isn't that the fun of middle school?