Environmental Presentations & Interrogating Plath's "Mirror"

1 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT present the findings from their Environmental Research tasks, framing in a way that appeals to the audience, intuits their background knowledge, & utilizes information from credible sources.

Big Idea

After spending an hour listening to reports about environmental devastation, taking a peek into Sylvia Plath's life is an exciting reprieve!


5 minutes

Today students will have control of most of the hour in order to deliver their informal Environmental Issues presentations.  Since I have large classes, we will just go down the list of environmental topics in the order that they are listed on the sign-up sheet.

Before we get started, I will give students a brief outline of what I expect to hear from their presentations:

  • Environmental issue you researched
  • How serious the problem is & for how long it's been a problem
  • The consequences of this environmental concern to people & the environment
  • Justification used by whoever is creating/perpetuating the issue
  • Your reactions to the issue (will you change something now that you know this information?)
  • Connection or similarity to Rachel Carson's essay

Student Presentations

65 minutes

Next, students will take approximately two minutes each to present their environmental research.  After each student's presentation, the audience will have an opportunity to ask the presenter questions.  I will require every listener to ask a total of three questions during today's presentations in order to encourage participation and active listening.  

I've attached an example of a completed student outline in the Resources section.  While I do give students points for their presentation for speaking quality and ability to answer peers' questions, most of the points that come from this assignment come from the outline portion that they completed last time for homework.  Students need to have completed the assignment fully and using credible websites for information in order to earn full credit.  (The beauty of this "credibility" requirement is that since we've rocked through an argumentative research paper this semester AND just had a test that covered research and credibility, students should have no reason to claim they "didn't know" something wasn't credible!  Woot!)


20 minutes

After all student presentations have been completed, we will move on to studying our first Post-Modern poem: "Mirror" by Sylvia Plath as an opener to Post-Modernism.  Students have already read and taken notes on the historical context of Post-Modernism after their unit test (and before my absence last class period), so this time period should not be new to them.  Additionally, I have looked over their historical context quiz from last class period over their notes, and students largely did very well!  

To prepare students for this poet's work, we will first popcorn read a brief biography about her and discuss which life features would likely impact her poetry and what we might expect in reading her poems.  If students don't pick it out as important, which they usually do, I will draw their attention to the assertion that "her work is singled out for the intense coupling of its violent or disturbed imagery and its playful use of alliteration and rhyme."  These two features together should alert students to the complexity of her poetry, and it should also give them a better idea of the underlying themes of her work.

Next, we will view a short video from Biography called "Sylvia Plath: Marriage by Fate."  Students will already think that Plath was insane because of the way she committed suicide, but I also think it's important that they understand that her life in its entirety was kind of miss-matched and confusing.  Her relationship with Ted Hughes (who edited her work for years as well) was another great example of the passion she approached life with and her devotion to going "all in" for whatever she wanted to do.  

Needless to say, students will be VERY interested in what Sylvia Plath has to say at this point, so we'll dive right into her poem, "Mirror."  After reading the poem aloud, we'll discuss it using the Q&A attached in the Resources section.

Provided that we complete our discussion, students will have a break from homework tonight!

Next Steps

Next time, we will continue our exploration of Post-Modern poetry on a larger scale to compare common Post-Modern themes in major works of the time.