Before focusing upon the poem to be discussed in class, I introduced the concept of Marking the Text to students. This is an activity whereby students are demonstrating active involvement in their reading through notations within the text and in the margins. I passed out Metacognitive Markers for students to glue in their notebooks for reference; they will be using these all year.
I introduced poetry to the class using Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken”.
The first thing I asked students to do was to make a prediction about the poem based only on the title. I guided the students by reminding them that we need to think about what could “Roads” represent since this is a poem and poems are written using figurative language.
Students jotted down predictions at the top of their paper, and we shared as a class.
I explained to the class that poetry is meant to be read more than once. The first time I read the poem aloud, just to get the idea of the poem. Students followed along, just getting feel/understanding of the poem.
Next, I asked students to read the poem silently to themselves, and mark the text by circling unfamiliar or confusing words AND highlighting phrases that create an image in their mind.
With the third reading, I ask for a student volunteer to read aloud. I ask students to follow along and listen to the story being told.
One last time, I ask students to read silently to themselves to try to understand the message being told.
In my class, I have eight small groups. I assigned each group one stanza to summarize. They wrote the summary in the margin next to the assigned stanza.
Then I have the small groups get into larger groups – those that summarized stanza 1, stanza 2, stanza 3, stanza 4. Within these larger groups, students are fine-tuning their summary through group discussion. They will be tell the class the meaning of the stanza so that the class hears the whole poem summarized.
As students are sharing their interpretations of the stanzas, the class began to realize that the stanzas fit together like a puzzle.
In the first stanza, Frost addresses a conflict – Which road will the speaker take?
In the second stanza, the speaker chooses a road.
The third stanza, the speaker keeps the other road for another day but in reality will probably never travel it
The fourth stanza is reflective, how it will make a good story in the future and how choice influenced the speakers life.