Scrambled Poem: To One in Paradise

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SWBAT construct a poem in the style of Edgar Allan Poe, using the words from one of his own creations

Big Idea

A day of deconstructed poetry...who says that word nerds don't know how to have a good time?

Latin Roots Warm Up

10 minutes

This is our daily warm up, wherein students work with two or three Latin roots per day.  The resource that I use to get my roots is Perfection Learning's Everyday Words from Classic Origins.
Every day, when the students arrive, I have two Latin roots on the SmartBoard.  Their job is to generate as many words as they can that contain the roots, and they try to guess what the root means.  After I give them about five minutes, we share words and I tell them what the root means.

The students compile these daily activities in their class journals.  After every twelve roots, they take a test on the roots themselves and a set of words that contains them.

Introducing the Challenge: Scrambled Poem

10 minutes

This activity is one that I do every year: I call it "The Scrambled Poem Challenge."  Basically, the lesson starts with me explaining the rules of the challenge to them.  I adapt the rules, based on the level of the class that is doing the activity.  I have also done this challenge with all different poems.  The goal of of the assignment today is for students to demonstrate their ability to create a particular mood (consistent with the other Edgar Allan Poe poems that we have studied) by using a set of vocabulary.  The assignment is one that students can work on at many different levels.  The more advanced learners can work in elements such as rhyme, rhythm, alliteration and anaphora, while other students will be adequately challenged just by working with the vocabulary.

OK, so the rules for today were..

  1. Everyone had the same amount of time (60 minutes) 
  2. The assignment was to create a poem that evokes the given mood (gloomy, mournful, dark.)  
  3. All partners were assigned at random.
  4. The goal was to use 90% of the words provided.
  5. Students could change the endings of two words, as long as it didn't make a completely new word with a different meaning.
  6. Words could only be used as many times as they appeared in the list.
  7. Punctuation and formatting of any kind were allowed.

After reviewing the rules, I set the stopwatch and students got to work.


Working in Partners

60 minutes

The tricky thing about this challenge is getting started.  Students have to examine the list and consider the subject of the poem.  Then, they have to start to assemble lines.

As student worked, I circulated to encourage and monitor.  I tried to get the students to just dive in and start writing, and I reminded them that they can move things around once they have composed their lines.  Some students really wanted to rhyme their poems, so they had an extra layer of preparation -- identifying all of the rhyming words.

I was really careful to stress that this is a challenge and that their poems would be evaluated on their ability to evoke the mood.  Since they all are very clear on what that mood is, the acceleration aspects of the assignment are totally under the control of the student.  I was a little concerned that some of my "smart lazies" would figure this out and just throw together anything.  That didn't happen, mostly because I think they thought the assignment was pretty fun, AND because they weren't working with their buddies.

The next step is typing them up, then they will perform them in a "poetry slam."