Poetic Motifs: Returning to Concepts of "Home" with Carl Sandburg's "Chicago" and "Grass"

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SWBAT analyze how the concept of "home" develops over the course of Carl Sandburg's poem, "Chicago," and the play, "A Raisin in the Sun," through poetic explication and discussion.

Big Idea

Robert Johnson's blues traditional asks, "Ooh, baby don't you want to go...To my sweet home Chicago?" But is home as sweet as the song makes it out to be?

Introduction & Welcome: It's The End of The Middle Ages!

3 minutes

We open class today with a note of historical importance, it's commonly accepted on today's date in 1453, the Middle Ages came to an endAs with all Daily Holidays, my objective is to build a sense of community, class identity, and trust in the classroom.

I also note that today, we are going to move away from "A Raisin in the Sun" and the Harlem Renaissance to address the work of Carl Sandburg, whose poem, "Chicago," shows another perspective of the setting of the play, and of the theme of home we have been addressing (see lesson: "Poetic Motifs: Concepts of 'Home' in Claude McKay's 'The Tropics in New York'.")

Poetic Analysis: "Chicago"

25 minutes

Students read Carl Sandburg's poems, "Chicago" and "Grass" for homework last night, in order to come prepared to draw on that that reading by referring to evidence from the poems in order to to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas (SL.9-10.1a). 

Students are asked to pull their desks to the student next to them, and in a one-on-one discussion, identify the figurative language used in "Chicago," particularly apostrophe, repetition and parallel structure, and how this word choice impacts the tone of pride in the city the poem (RL.9-10.4). 

As a class, we review the students' findings, and analyze how the theme of pride in the city despite its flaws develops over the course of the poem (RL.9-10.2).

Students are also asked to analyze how the city itself is portrayed in both the poem and in the play, "A Raisin in the Sun" (RL.9-10.7) in order to practice drawing connections. 

As the class shares their thoughts, I write them on the whiteboard to provide a note-taking model.

Overall, we look at "Chicago" in order to provide students with exposure to the poetry of Carl Sandburg, as well as demonstrate differing perspectives on a topic, in this case, the city of Chicago. By working collaboratively with a partner, students can build upon and check their understanding of complex poem, the concept of apostrophe, and review of repetition and parallel structure. By sharing with the class, I can check their understanding and ensure the entire class is on the same page.

Poetic Analysis: "Grass"

10 minutes

As a class, we address the questions on the study guide for "Grass"(which students received yesterday) identifying what the text says as well as inferences regarding the theme of nature continuing with or without man's influence (RL.9-10.1). 

We address this short poem as a whole-class discussion in order to provide students with context for ideas with  which many of them are unfamiliar: the battles of the American Civil, Napoleonic and First World Wars; extended train travel; and Sandburg's simple style. By leading the discussion, I can ensure students are provided with clear answers, and directly provide clarification for any students confusion.

We vary discussion styles during class today in order to provide a review of the differing ways to address material in class, a sort of capstone to the course as there are only two days remaining in the school year. 

Two-Minute Warning: Wrap-Up & Reminders

2 minutes

With two minutes remaining, students are reminded to bring their copies of "A Raisin in a Sun" to class tomorrow, as we will wrap up Act III of the play in class. I also offer an opportunity to ask any questions students may have regarding their upcoming final exam.