Types of Rhythm in "Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout"
Lesson 9 of 14
Objective: Students will be able to analyze a poem's rhythm by identifying the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables (scanning).
Today we continue reading about the workplace disaster at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. This week we're heavily focusing on subject/verb agreement and verb tenses. Students practice the concept in the seventh line with the phrase "which means" which should be "which meant." Another instance is with the last line "scraps was not" that should be "scraps were not."
Homonyms were another big focus this week. They practice spelling forty correctly, the difference between waisted and wasted, and throne and thrown.
I spent time modeling scanning the rhythm of the last line from "Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout." I did this for the benefit of students who were absent yesterday and to provide excellent modeling for students who haven't quite grasped the concept.
Yesterday students were assigned three lines of "Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout" to scan. Scanning being the process of determining where the stressed syllables fall.
I gave students about ten minutes to continue the work. Of course, I had students who were absent yesterday, but here today, and students that were here yesterday but were absent today. I combined groups to deal with absences. After about ten minutes, I asked students to select one of their three lines. That line would be written on a dry erase board and presented to the class.
Students struggled with knowing how to identify the different feet. How do you know if a foot has two or three syllables? How do you separate them out?
It's an intuitive thing. I've been reading a book by Steven Fry, The Ode Less Traveled. The first chapter discusses how rhythm is used, not only in poetry, but in everyday speech. We very often speak in iambs. It's actually natural speech. I'd recommend checking that book out. I don't regret it.
Each group came to present their lines. After the group presented, I asked the rest of the class if it seemed right. Sometimes the class was able to spot mistakes (excellent!), or tell if it was correct (excellent!), and sometimes they couldn't. I was able to provide immediate feedback that was more meaningful than comments on a paper (and took a lot less time). Certainly, you need to have a classroom environment where it's okay to make mistakes, and everyone supports each other in learning. At my school, we call that Homecourt Advantage.
Please see the Scanning Rhythm in Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout Video to see examples of lines that students got correct and incorrect. A note about the video: Yes, I know I spelled Sylvia with a C on the video. I always get the spelling on that alliterative series wrong and I should know to check it five million times. I only checked it three million times this time.