Language Study: Holocaust Poetry (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT demonstrate understanding of figurative language and nuances in word meanings by analyzing the use of connotation and denotation in poetry.

Big Idea

We will take a step back from Night today to look at other forms of writing/emotional responses to the Holocaust.


10 minutes

We will start class with ten minutes of reading time. I will read with my students during this time. 

Review and practice with TPCASTT

20 minutes

I introduced the TPCASTT method of poetry analysis earlier this semester, but think it is important to review it today so that students can remember what kinds of things to read/look for when analyzing a poem.

To do this, I will actually have the students do a practice TPCASTT analysis of "On Weizel's Night", written by teacher Thomas E. Thornton for the NCTE English Journal. I will project the poem onto the white boards and, with the help of my social studies partner, who will write what the students tell him to write, guide them through an annotation of the poem. I hope that modeling the poem like this will help them to see what I want them to do when they read their own poems later in the class period. 

I am using this particular poem for a variety of reasons, but mainly because I think it does a great job of combining poetic language/imagery with some thematic references to Night (RL.9-10.2 and L.9-10.3).

Also, the TPCASTT method of analysis could really be used for a variety of genres/forms of writing, but I think it is important to point out to students that we are using it for poetry because connotation and shifts are very important tools poets utilize to make their writing poetic. With that in mind, I will focus my questioning to try to get them to think about how the word choice of our poet as well as his figurative or connotative language lend to his ultimate purpose or message (L.9-10.5; L.9-10.5a; L.9-10.5b and RL.9-10.4) and hopefully move the students more towards proficiency with these language standards



Individual Poem Anlaysis

20 minutes

I've found quite a few resources for using TPCASTT as a reading guide, though, honestly, I think it best used as an annotation technique. As such, I will not give the students a note-catcher, but will instead have them use their notes/observations about TPCASTT to annotate a poem on their own.

I will have each student read and annotate one of two poems: 

I'm using these two poems for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, they are great examples of nuanced word meanings. Case in point--when I ask my students to read the poem "Naked", all the sophomore boys will laugh. Secondly, I think they do a great job of looking at WWII themes/ideas from the eyes of innocence. They both provide great opportunities to discuss dramatic irony as well as looking specifically at how an poet can use poetic devices to create multiple meanings with very few words. 

I will copy both poems (back to back) on two colors of paper then hand out the two poems and assign a color to a poem. Students will use these annotations later this week as a part of a jigsaw sharing/discussion of both poems when they will join a peer with a different colored paper and share their ideas/insights. 

Wrap Up and Next Steps

5 minutes

I will save the last few minutes of class to see if anyone has questions about word meanings or their task and then remind students to finish their annotations and continue reading as homework tonight.