How Do I Find THE MEssage in poetry? Small groups

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SWBAT apply strategies learned to determine the theme of a poem.

Big Idea

Now's your chance to hunt for themes in poetry on your own. Think you have what it takes?

Small Groups

45 minutes

Today is about the students reading poetry and using the tools they were given yesterday to determine the theme. I'm going to use three poems today that will definitely take the students some time to get through. I've chosen "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes, "Alone" by Maya Angelou, and "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. "The Road Not Taken" is placed here for more than one reason. In a few days, when we start comparing themes, I'll be placing a comic book activity in my workstations. This activity will explain the theme through Frost's eyes. I'd like them to try this out on their own before reading that comic. Also, in social studies, we're working on westward expansion; speficially studying the Corps of Discovery. I created an activity where the students use this poem to describe how Lewis and Clark felt when arriving at the Three Forks of the Missouri River. Today's activity will also help build the background for that. "Mother to Son" was chosen because we read "Thank You Ma'am" in RTI last week, and the kids were hungry for more Langston Hughes. They were pretty excited when I told them that he wrote poetry and prose, so I worked the poem in for them. Also, I love this poem and thought the kids would like to see the similarities of the women in both pieces. "Alone" just had that same theme of times being tough, so I threw that in there to start planting the seed of comparing common themes. We won't be discussing that at all unless the kids mention a similarity in the themes when we discuss. The task for today is just reading the poems and annotating by using the finding the theme of a poem tool sheet. 

Today you will read three poems in your small groups. You will have 15 minutes to read, annotate and determine a theme for each poem. Groups will end in 45 minutes and then we will spend some time discussing your thoughts as a class. I will meet with groups periodically throughout the time. I may spend more time with your group than others, but I will move to each group at least once. I would select one person to be the time keeper to help you stay on task. Anything not finished in class will have to be finished for homework. 

I will have my students homogeneously grouped based on previous performance. I know for sure that I have 5 students that will need a lot of my help. I plan to have 6 groups of 5 students. When working with my struggling students, I'll let them try the steps on their own, but I know I'll need to intervene at times to guide their thinking. I only plan on posing questions for each section of the notes sheet to guide them through each poem. My 5 that are struggling the most are still very literal, so I will have to spend some time discussing the figurative language that may confuse them. If this group doesn't get through all 3, I'll be fine with that. For them it's more about quality than quantity. 

Here are a few of my expectations for the theme group work. 

Discussion and Closure

15 minutes

You can have the students discuss their thoughts in a number of ways. Students could come to the fron of the room and share their thoughts. You could do a whole class question and answer session. You could place the poems on the board and pick sticks or call names for students to come up and annotate and discuss the poems. I'm thinking that I'm going to write the names of the poems on large chart paper and place them around the room. Students can then do a carousel to move around the room in groups to write down what they felt the theme was for AloneMother To Son, and The Road Not Taken. They can also read what their peers wrote. We'll then have a brief discussion about the similarities in the themes written, and I can clear up any confusion that appears.