Folktale Two-Voice Poem

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SWBAT produce a two-voice poem to compare and contrast two different folktales.

Big Idea

Comparing and contrasting through two-voice poems.

Word Roots Warm Up

10 minutes


5 minutes

As a starter for today's lesson, I have students watch the following video of two middle-school students performing the two-voice poem, "Honeybees" by Paul Fleishman.


After we've watched the video for a first time, I will hand out a hard copy of the poem the girls are performing.  I ask students to follow along and observe how the written text sounds when the girls are performing it.

After the second viewing, with the hard copy, I will ask the students what they observed about how the format of the text helped the girls create their performance.  I am hoping to hear that there were lines that the girls said separately and lines they said together.  I hope to hear something about the poem showing two different sides to the lives of bees.  

Getting Down to Business

50 minutes

As we move into the activity portion of today's lesson, I let my students know that they will be working with a partner - someone who read a different folktale yesterday - to create a two-voice poem comparing and contrasting two different folktales. I pose the following question to the class:  When you're comparing and contrasting, what is a good prewriting strategy?  At this point in the year, I will hear from more than one person that using a Venn diagram is a useful tool.  I will congratulate them on knowing how to tackle prewriting as I hand out the Venn diagram - one to each pair of students.  If you are limited on copies, it's very easy for student to draw two circles on a sheet of paper!

I also hand out the Two-Voice Poem handout where they will ultimately write their poem.  Again, folding a sheet of paper in thirds also gets this job done quite effectively.  I write the following instructions on the board:

Your poem must have at least 12 lines:

  • Four one person says individually
  • Four the other person says individually
  • Four you say in unison.


I remind students that their Introduction to Oral Literature Notes might come in handy for this activity, and I invite them to take them out of their binders and use them.

Students have the remainder of the period to write and rehearse for tomorrow's performances.

Did They Get It?

55 minutes

The following class period, students will be performing their poems.  I will give them 5-10 minutes to rehearse with their partners, then it's time to review the reflect, review the rubric, and perform.

I hand each student the rubric half sheet.  I have them complete the front side.  I then ask them to turn it over and look at the grading criteria for the assignment.  I bring to their attention that 25% of the grade is their performance, 25% is the reflection, 25% is the writing process, and 25% is the poem itself.  

As I go through this, I'm always entertained by the students who not-so-subtly flip their sheets over and look through the reflection questions again.  Once I'm sure everyone is done with the reflection portion, I invite them to use the rubric to silently score each pair that reads a poem.  They can use this to mentally prepare for their own performance.

As each pair takes the stage, I have them hand me their half-sheets.  While they're reading, I will use a highlighter to quickly score the performance.  When they're done reading, I will collect the poem and Venn.  It's a pretty quick process to complete the grade for this assessment after class.