Reflection: Checks for Understanding Line Breaks, White Space, and Analyzing Free Verse Poetry for Comprehension - Section 2: Analyzing Whispering Wind


My class and I live in an urban area in Eastern Tennessee, and most of my students don't really have any frame of reference about Native Americans or Native American culture.  After reading this poem, my students thought that this poem was about a dance party.  I can see that.  We live in the age of technology and I'm willing to bet some of my students have the Wii or Xbox game "Dance Party".

I said to my students, "What would you say if I told you that the author listed here - Terry Allen - was a Native American Indian.  What do you think the poem is about now?" Now I had really thrown them through a loop.  They all looked at my like I had three heads.  This moment in my classroom is a prime example of what happens to students when they read and they have no background knowledge in the subject manner.  Comprehension breaks down.  So what is my job as a teacher?  It's to build that background knowledge, and yes you can back up and do this "on the fly."

Having taught in Arizona for many years I had some knowledge about Native American Pow Wows.  I had some friends who were Native Americans who always attended a huge Pow Wow event at Arizona State University where we attended.  Some of the local tribes would also come and speak and explain the dances to us on campus.  So I wanted to help my students understand because the dances are really incredible.  I went to YouTube and typed in Native American Pow Wow.  This video is short but good, as is this one.  There are many great videos to choose from.  Once I had built up some background knowledge, we went back to the poem, and I actually heard kids go, "Oh, so that's what they mean. They're at a pow wow."  The poem may or may not have been about an actual Pow Wow, but at least the kids understand now that there was a native celebration - not a dance party.

  Background Knowledge on the Fly
  Checks for Understanding: Background Knowledge on the Fly
Loading resource...

Line Breaks, White Space, and Analyzing Free Verse Poetry for Comprehension

Unit 18: Let's Learn About Poetry
Lesson 4 of 9

Objective: SWBAT identify line breaks and white space in poems and be able to identify the literary techniques the author uses in order to comprehend the poems.

Big Idea: Reading comprehension is not just for stories - today we analyze and comprehend free verse poems.

  Print Lesson
2 teachers like this lesson
  75 minutes
poetry 2
Similar Lessons
You Are My Sunshine
1st Grade ELA » Meaning from Poetry, Songs, and Stories
Big Idea: Students will listen to two songs and analyze excerpts from the text.
Shelbyville, TN
Environment: Urban
Regan Aymett
Monitor and Clarify: Caribbean Dream
1st Grade ELA » Monitor and Clarify the Word Choice
Big Idea: Your students will gain reading comprehension skills and confidence using the strategies in this lesson.
National City, CA
Environment: Suburban
Sarah Collins
Hidden Hints
1st Grade ELA » Wemberly Worried
Big Idea: Captions give the reader more details about what is going on.
Faison, NC
Environment: Rural
Laura Quellhorst
Something went wrong. See details for more info
Nothing to upload