Stopping By The Woods

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SWBAT identify the meaning of words and phrases in poems.

Big Idea

Students will engage in finding meaning in poems.


10 minutes

Common Core Connection and Introduction

This lesson contains two exemplar poems that I really enjoy teaching and it is the perfect time to really think about winter.  Both poems do a great job of creating a picture, but also using interesting vocabulary to describe the scene, which helps to teach students to think about the feelings and deeper meanings that the poetry evokes, which connects to reading standard 4.  In order to help my students analyze the meaning in the poems we do several repeated reading prior to analysis.  This is a good technique to use whenever you are thinking about reading standard 10 and trying to teach using rich, complex texts like these two poems.

One way I try to use collaboration in my classroom is by doing almost every task in groups. The lesson begins on the lounge with my students seated in mixed ability groups of two. I use their  oral reading fluency scores on DIBELS to determine their grouping.  Typically the higher the oral reading fluency the better the students' comprehension.  Using mixed groups can engage the students in a higher order thinking situation when one peer explains or justifies him- or herself.

First graders need transition about every twenty minutes so we move around a lot.  I think this keeps the students engaged.  First we begin the lesson on the lounge. Then I move the class to desks for the guided practice, next we move to the center tables, and last we close in the lounge.  During each transition the students chant the lesson goal which refocuses the lesson goal.  It also keeps order as the students move to their next location.


In the hook I always try to activate my students thinking using technology, questioning, or story telling. Today I think it might be nice to project the lesson image and allow the students to describe the image to their partner.  This will get the students thinking of vocabulary related to winter. While the students are discussing I am assessing their use of vocabulary.

Then I explain that we are going to read two poems about winter and analyze them for their meaning.  The student chant I can determine the meaning in a poem.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

As we begin the lesson I ask the students (Guided Practice Seating) to move the desks so we can have a nice place to place the poems. But, really it is because first graders need to move about every twenty minutes or they become disengaged.  

Then I give everyone a copy of the poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost.  Each child needs a copy to use as they look for evidence in the text, to practice tracking, and for echo reading.  To engage everyone and get the class familiar with the text I ask each child to repeat what I say after each line.  

After we have echo read then we begin breaking down the poem to establish meaning. I have created a nice Graphic Organizer for Meaning in the resources that we will use to organizer our thoughts.  So, first the students circle any words that they are unsure of the meaning.  Then I allow several volunteers to share a word.  I write the word on the board on a large version of the graphic organizer.  Then students discuss what they think the word means.  After the discussion, I ask one student why they think the word means that.  Hopefully they will use the text to show their reasoning, but if they do not I will reread the portion of the text that helps us determine the meaning of the word.  Then I will write the meaning on the board (Board Work).  I go through this process at least five times to help the students learn to use context clues and figurative language to understand the meaning in a text. 


1. Students share a word they do not know and I write it on the board.

2. Students predict with their partner what the word might me after rereading the portion of the text that contains that word.

3. I write a prediction I hear.

4. A volunteer shares their meaning using evidence from the text to support their reasoning.

Some of the words I anticipate my students struggling with are: village, farmhouse, queer, Harness, downy. Knowing this, I have to prepare some kind of definition that makes sense and support it through the text. Here is how I planned to explain the words:

  • A village is where houses are because it says his house is there. We might think of this as subdivision or trailer park.  ... I know the things that my students are familiar with and I am connecting the term to their prior knowledge.  Most of my students live in a trailer park.
  • For farmhouse, I can use the breaking words apart strategy here and we know what a farm is and a house.  So, a farmhouse is a house on a farm.
  • Then we come to the word, queer, and I point out that the author is saying that his horse "might think it is queer to stop."  What word could we substitute for queer and keep the meaning?  Hopefully somebody will come up with unique, odd, or unusual. 
  • Then it say he give his harness bells a shake.  We reread the line before, line with the word, and line after the word.  I ask: what might there be bells on?  Then hopefully somebody realizes a harness is the leather on the horse. I will have a picture of this ready, because it is easier to see than explain. 
  • Finally, last we talk about downy.  It is an adjective that describes a flake.  What does it mean? Does anyone have a down comforter?  It is like fluffy or soft.

Partner Work

20 minutes

Next the class transitions to the center tables where I already have their materials ready and  we echo read it It Fell In The City Chart.  Then students fill in the graphic organizer with five words from the Poem that they do not know. For each word they are supposed to make a prediction about the meaning prior to using their context clues and word analysis skills.  Then the students (Partner Work) go back in the text and use their context clues skills and word analysis skills to determine the meaning of the words.

Student Reflection

5 minutes

Now we transition to the lounge for some up close and personal evaluation.  Students work on the speaking and listening skills as they present (Presentation) their work and provide academic feedback (Evaluation) to their peers.  Academic feedback, speaking, and listening are something that can be quite challenging to first graders, so it is really important to be proactive in addressing these issues.  I go over every rule or procedure I can think of prior to the group presentations.  The first few rules are hold your paper still, look at the speaker, and think about what the person is saying.  Then we move on to how to give your peers feedback. I model this for the students or they tell their peers good job every time.  We need to help each other get better and learn from each other.  So, our feedback needs to be specific.  For example, I think hydrant must be the  thing on the street corners that fire fighters use to get water, because the text uses red and fire to describe it.

After two or three groups present and the class has a discussion giving them feedback, we move on to the closure.  We do not chant or move for this transition, because this section should take about ten minutes.  We have ten more minutes before the students usually become disengaged.


5 minutes

Now I am ready to wrap this lesson up and I want to know what they are going to take away from today's lesson.  I am hoping they refer to the new vocabulary and how it has meaning, and how the context clues can help readers understand words. So, students tell their partner one thing they learned and one thing they want to learn. As I listen I make notes about the things they learned, and what they want to learn. This helps me plan future lessons that are engaging. 

Last, we restate the lesson goal to help the students focus on what is important in this lesson.  I can determine the meaning of words and phrases in poems.