Today I introduced TP-CASTT to analyze poetry. This strategy takes the students step-by-step, examining various aspects of a poem. It provides an opportunity for students to record their interpretations for future reference in discussions and written responses.
Using the TP-CASTT power point, I explain the meaning of each letter in this acronym: T – title, P- paraphrase, C – connotation, A – attitude, S - shift , T - title , T – theme.
Each student took out their copy of “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost and received a TP-CASTT organizer. In future lessons, as we progress with analyzing poems, students create their own graphic organizer on their own paper. The previous day we had read “The Road Not Taken” and made a prediction, so students copied their prediction into the TP-CASTT organizer. If we had not read and discussed the poem earlier, I would have begun with asking the class to make a prediction based only upon the title.
We discussed what “literal” and “figurative” language means. What is the difference? Then I remind them that poetry is not to be taken literally, so when making predictions the term “ road” think figuratively vs literally.
In my class, we read the poem four times before we begin to discuss or analyze. I read the poem aloud first; student read it silently and circle words that are unfamiliar to them; a volunteer reads the poem aloud while the other students focus on understanding meanings and interpretations; finally, students silently read it again to gain more understanding of the poem – they also highlight words or phrases provide imagery to them.
I guided the students through each step of the graphic organizer. In the “P” section, students paraphrased what the poem seems to be about. Since this is the first time we are analyzing a poem, we are completing all these steps together. Therefore, we share ideas about what each poem seems to be addressing, then students record their paraphrased interpretation based upon the class discussion.
Using Connotation we addressed some lines that might be unfamiliar to the students. We talk about the reason such words are being used and the feelings portrayed. It is important for students to realize that the poem was written in the early 1900s and that Frost wrote about New Hampshire.
We then focused upon the attitude of the narrator while discussing his dilemma and the shift that occurs later in poem when he reflects back upon his choice. These two steps worked together because during the discussion of the attitude students noted an obvious change between stanza 3 and 4, so both could be addressed at this time.
Addressing the Title a second time, provided student’s an opportunity to validate or change their original prediction. We also talked about how predictions can change/and should change as the reader gains more knowledge. In this case, we read and discussed the poem, so our prediction could be revised to reflect our understanding of the poem.
Lastly, we identified “Theme”. I pointed out that theme is not a topic but rather a message that you can take away and apply to your own life.
As a closure, I reminded students that the topic of the poem was “choices”, however, they needed to think about how the theme could be connected to their own life. After giving students a couple minutes to think, students shared the application of the theme within their small groups.