In a previous lesson on analyzing poetry I instructed the students through modeling and guided practice. In this lesson the students will move through the same activities with more independence. The focus of the lesson is to gain understanding of the poem “The Daffodils” by William Wordsworth by examining the following elements: figurative language, rhyme scheme, setting, speaker, mood and theme. Students will work in small heterogeneous groups that are differentiated by readiness. Each group will examine the same poem and use the same graphic organizers but the tasks will differ. The lesson also includes an active learning strategy called cubing that will engage the students’ interest. The diverse student population will benefit from visuals, working in small groups and peer modeling.
I take time at the start of class to activate prior knowledge by asking the students to turn to someone and talk about these three topics:
The class discussion that follows identifies the word ‘analyze’ as meaning to take something apart, identify its elements or essential features, and to consider the relationships between them. In poetry, this means coming to understand the meaning of a poem by examining its literary elements, such as figurative language, theme, speaker, etc. The strategies we use are to annotate the poem by adding our thoughts and ideas in the margin at the same time we note the literary elements.
After handing out copies of the poem “Daffodils” by William Wordsworth to students, I read it aloud to the class. Another option is to ask four students to each read one stanza. This works best if the students have some time to read and review it ahead of time. An explanation of why to read aloud to the class appears here:
A note about preparation: Those in the lowest tier receive copies of the poem that includes underlined phrases to help them identify the mood of the poem. That version is available here. Advanced and middle level readers use Daffodils version.
Give students a copy of the graphic organizer, which provides a place for them to record evidence of these six elements: figurative language, rhyme scheme, setting, speaker, mood and theme. You will notice that the direction worksheets have numbers in the lower left corner to denote the reading level. It does not matter the order in which the sections are filled in, what does matter is that evidence is provided, so be sure to stress this point.
Each group is given a cube with one of the elements listed on each side. (I used small gift boxes to make mine. Each student rolls the cube two or three times and is responsible for examining the poem for those elements. Then, each person presents their work to the group until each section is complete. Another option is to have the students work together on one section at a time.
While students are at work, you can circulate among groups, answer questions, offer directions and take anecdotal notes.