The Poetry of Poe: Rhythmic Ravens

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SWBAT analyze the impact of word choice--particularly poetic devices--on tone and meaning by explicating Poe's "The Raven" in pairs.

Big Idea

Auditory devices such as alliteration, assonance, consonance, and a variety of rhyme create the atmosphere of Poe's poetry; students are exploring this atmosphere in their explication.

Welcome & Intro: It's Diabetes Awareness Day

3 minutes

After students have settled, I share that today is World Diabetes Awareness Day. I know that there is at least one diabetic in my sophomore classes, and, while I don't want to single him out, I do want them to know I'm aware of his needs. I share with the students that I have started participating in "Tour De Cure," the bicycle ride fundraiser put on by the American Diabetes Association. I also ask if any students know a "good sugar-free candy that does not taste like glue" to add to the candy bowl in my desk. As with all Daily Holidays, the purpose of drawing students' attention to this is to create the sense o community within my classroom. 

Whole-Class Review: Making Sense of Sound

20 minutes

I have put yesterday's explication notes from Stanza 1 of "The Raven" back on the board, and as a mini-lecture, I ask students to take out their "The Raven" Reading, Guide, and Questions. In order to reinforce and draw connections for the students, I verbally and visually go back through what we covered yesterday, making sure to include any ideas about sound, story, and singular effect one class may have addressed that the others may have missed--this allows for continuity between multiple classes. Additionally, students who were absent have the opportunity in-class to review what we discussed.

Between modeling the explication and annotation process I am looking for, and having students split into groups, I ask them to listen to a reading of "The Raven," complete with exaggeration of the sound devices they'll be looking for as they read. By proving students with a chance to "listen", I meet the needs of the auditory learners, and reinforce the poem for all. After listening, we quickly discuss the impact of these poetic devices on meaning and tone (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4).

Pairs Explication: One Stanza at a Time

25 minutes

Once I have modeled the notes for explication, and asked if students had anything to add, we number off to "mix up" with whom the students collaborate. Starting with #2, the numbers are the number of the stanza which they will take time today to do the same thing we just did together: explicate and annotate the poem looking for the use of sound devices and how they contribute to the overall mood and the way the events in the stanza move the story forward. As they read, discuss, and mark up their copies of the poem, students are determining figurative and connotative meaning* of the diction, and how that diction influences the tone of the work (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4), as well as analyzing how Poe's stanza and line structure creates the sense of "eerie, spooky, weird" mystery to "the Raven" (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5). Students are free to annotate using what works best for them, I do not provide specific directions such as "underline words that connote a sense of mystery", "circle repeated rhymes", as I encourage students to pursue the note-taking methods that work best for them. When I create models of annotation, I tend to use different colors for each "area" of poetry (poetic devices, themes, speaker, etc.).

*Particularly because the copies of the poem do not include footnotes with definitions of the unfamiliar terms. 

Before they begin their paired discussion, I explain that tomorrow, we will be creating a PowerPoint slide of their explication of the stanza, in order to create a complete explication of the poem. I have made the copy of the poem available on the school's network so that they may copy and paste it into PowerPoint. 

As students read, discuss, and mark up their poems, I circulate the room to offer help and clarification of their explication and annotation work, such as Poe's poetic diction and Poe's poetic devices.

I chose for students to work in pairs partially to give them the opportunity to collaborate; as I noted, some of the language is challenging and I feel by working together, students can decipher it. Additionally, there is a straightforward, logistical reason to have students work together: the poem is only eighteen stanza long, and we have already addressed one of them in class. In classes of nearly thirty students, having them pair up ensures most of the stanzas are covered. In order to address those stanzas unassigned, I will offer an opportunity for extra credit  to the students who choose to address them, and the students that are absent will be assigned them, independently. These students will have additional time to take into account working independently. 

Two-Minute Warning: Wrap-Up & Reminders

2 minutes

With two minutes remaining, I ask for the students' attentions, remind them we will be in a computer lab tomorrow creating individual PowerPoint slides; they should read Poe's "The Masque of The Red Death" for Monday, and make sure they take notes on how it meets the elements of Romanticism.  

(Thanks to the University of Virginia for making "The Masque of the Red Death" available in the public domain. "The Masque of the Red Death" was published before January 1, 1923; it is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.)