Perceptions v. Circumstance: Target Organizer for "The Wreck of the Hesperus"

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SWBAT determine the difference between perception and circumstance in order to summarize a ballad and create a target organizer with textual evidence

Big Idea

Students hit the bulls-eye to differentiate between perceptions and circumstance in a target organizer.

Do Now

10 minutes

On my Promethean Smart Board, when students enter they will have two definitions from and

1) perception- the way you think about or understand someone or something

2) circumstance-the way something happens : the specific details of an event

Also, they will have two pictures of photos of victims of Hurricane Katrina with different captions. You can find the photos on I chose these photos because they represent people facing an identical circumstance, yet there are different perceptions of what is happening in the pictures. I am asking students to write down the circumstances and perceptions of each of the people in the text AND the perceptions of the person who wrote the captions. I don't share any comments on the pictures or any insinuation that there is racism or bias here because I want to see what my students will come up with on their own. This way, they are examining the points of view of each of the authors of the captions (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.6).

After five minutes, I will call on a couple of students to share the circumstances and perceptions evident in the photos. This may provoke a bit more conversation about why these perceptions existed. We will also discuss whether they think the people in the photos have the same perception of their circumstance.

Building Knowledge

15 minutes

After the "Do Now," I will explain to students that our new unit is Actions and Reactions. For this unit, we will be answering the question: How do perceptions affect actions? This question will stay posted during this unit.

Next we well be listening to a poem, "The Wreck of the Hesperus." I am choosing to read this poem because it is a great launch into the unit. Students will get an opportunity to distinguish between the three different perceptions of the situation in the poem as well as the actions and reactions of the characters and compare them to the actual circumstances. Eventually, we will tie this back to the essential question. While we listen and read, we want to be able to determine and discuss the three different perceptions of the circumstance presented in the poem (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1a) using details from what we have read and heard. Before doing that, I think it is important that my students have a solid understanding of the poem; therefore, I will play an audio of the poem as the follow along.



I won't be showing the entire five minute video; I will stop it at the end of the poem. During this first reading, I will require that students simply listen and follow along in their books in order to try to make sense of the circumstance and perceptions of the characters. I chose this audio because there is an image of a wave hitting the rocks at sea and soothing music playing in the background, but there are no other images that might take away from their listening, reading, and comprehension of the poem.

After the first reading, I will ask students to turn and talk about what is happening in the poem (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1a). I am doing this to see if they have the general gist of the plot because they will read more closely in the next section of the lesson.


Application: Summarizing the Poem

35 minutes

I will ask my students to spend 20 minutes writing one-sentence summaries of each stanza of the poem. The poem has 22 stanzas, so they should have a total of 22 sentences when they finish their summaries. Summarizing helps students make meaning in order to do deeper analysis and connection to the essential question for this unit. Also providing an objective summary of the text is one of the skills in the Common Core (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2)

Here's where I think I might have some resistance to writing a summary of each stanza. My students like to take short cuts. They will want to combine stanzas, but I have to hold fast to the assignment because I want them to continue to build their stamina for following through with reading tasks, even when they seem tedious. Sorry kiddos, no short cuts! Check out video 1, video 2, and video 3 of my students as they make meaning by summarizing. Note how one of my students didn't want to say the word, breasts, in the poem, but another student volunteers, "I'll say it." Funny kids!


Application: Target Organizer

10 minutes

On the other side of the summary paper is a Target Organizer.  This organizer was provided by our Harford County Public Schools ELA office. On this organizer, I will ask students to chart out the circumstance and the three different perceptions in the poem. My students will be charting information about the skipper, the daughter, and the old sailor that are mentioned in the poem. In the middle circle, students will list descriptions of the circumstance (Hurricane at Sea) making special note of any figurative language (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4) the author uses.  In the second section they will describe each characters perceptions. Finally in the outer circle, they will find and cite textual evidence (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1) that shows each of the perceptions. Check out a sample of student work.


10 minutes

The closure for today is a question: What is the difference between perception and circumstance?

I am asking this to make sure that these concepts are crystal clear as we continue this unit. We will be discussing perception v. circumstance "ad nauseum" over the next few weeks :).