What Is a Poem?

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SWBAT explain the features of poetry as well as understand and demonstrate the correct way to read a poem.

Big Idea

Like any genre, one must understand the foundational elements before true comprehension can take place.

Tell Me What You Know...

10 minutes

Today my students will begin a short unit on poetry.  Today's lesson will be the introductory piece to get the students thinking about what poetry is and how it's different from other pieces we've read this year.  

We begin this class with an entrance ticket- one simple task- tell everything you know about poetry.  I hand out the entrance ticket and give the students about five minutes to complete it. I just want to get them thinking and mulling over the things they've learned about poetry.  

After the time passes, I have students draw a line under what they've written and I instruct the students that under the line they should add other ideas that they hear from their classmates. While the students share, I chart their answers on the Smartboard.  We hear the usual, expected responses, "They rhyme."  "They're short."   While I chart what they say, I also take note of what they DON'T say- no mention of figurative language, no mention of the importance of word choice, punctuation choices or form choices and no mention of different types of poems. What students don't say is sometimes as important as what they do say!!

As we discuss what a poem is, I ask the students if there is a correct way to read a poem.  I have them turn to their shoulder partner and discuss.  The overwhelming consensus is no.



Is There a Correct Way?

30 minutes

I want to show students that there is, indeed, a correct way to read a poem.  I put a poem called The Foul Shot by Edwin Hoey under the ELMO and we begin the discussion about punctuation and how to read a poem.  

I like this poem because it's straightforward and easy for students to understand.  Most of my kids have played or watched some form of basketball game and are familiar with the idea of a foul shot.  I also think the choices the poet made create good discussion points for poetry beginners.

I choose a students to read the poem aloud and, as I figured would happen, they stopped at the end of each line.  I read the poem and ask students the difference.  It really takes them a while to get the difference, but after much prodding, leading and multiple readings, they finally come to the answer- I didn't stop at the end of each line.  I tell the students that reading poetry is like reading any story that we've read in class.  We stop at punctuation.

I have the students read it with me- correctly.  We talk about why some lines have punctuation and some don't.  We talk about why some lines have one word and why some lines are longer. I really lead this part of the discussion pointing out different examples of author's choice and then we read it again.

Now You Read One...

15 minutes

After we read the poem for the last time, I show the students a pile of poetry books that I have in my classroom.  I pass out books to groups of students and task them with reading the poems and finding a good example of a poem where punctuation is important to the meaning of the poem.  Near the end of class, I have students choose their favorites to share being sure to pay close attention to the punctuation they see.  

Before students leave, I hand out their homework and explain what they are to do.  Homework will be due the following day when we will go over it together.