Using TP-CASTT to Compare Themes in Poems by Two Different Authors: Analyzing and Comparing “I, Too” and “I Hear America Singing.”

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SWBAT identify, interpret, and compare themes and analyze impact of word choice on meaning of poems by using the TP-CASTT organzier and analyzing supporting evidence from the poem.

Big Idea

What do Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman’s poems have in common?


10 minutes

Chunking the Learning

In my past lessons I've been using the TP-CASTT poetry analysis organizer to help my students analyze poems we've been reading during this unit, and will do so again today as we build upon our analysis skills learned each day -- from the first lessons which analyzed one poem, to yesterday's lesson which analyzed two poems by one author, to today's lesson which will analyze and compare two poems by two separate authors.

In this activator I want to give my students practice answering parts or "chunks" of the organizer. I cut and paste or modify the TP-CASTT to show the Title and Theme; predicting what the poem is about by reading the Title and then in their own words to briefly state the Theme (RL.9-10.2). To increase engagement, I include  three short poems written by teenagers about teen topics for my students to make a prediction and have an understand of its theme. I explain my rationale for doing so here: Prediction.

Students read a title of three short poems and make a prediction about what the poem is about.  Next students read the poem and briefly state in their own words what the poem is actually about which is often very different then their prediction, and what the poem is saying about the theme (subject).

To check for understanding I select a few students to share their answers with the class:TP-CASTT student response 1student response 2student response 3.  


These poems can be found on  

Building Knowledge

20 minutes

I begin by using I Hear America Singing and I Too powerpoint presentation to review Free Verse and how to find Theme in a poem (slides #2-4).  Students take notes in their journals. To check for understanding I use the Cold Call technique asking students the 3 ways to find theme in a poem RL.9-10.2.

I then explain that we will be reading two different poems with similar themes. I give a brief explanation of how Langston Hughes who wrote his poem, "I, Too"  in the (1930’s) might have been inspired to write his poem after reading Walt Whitman's "I Hear America Singing" in the (1800’s).  I tell my students that their work will be to identify and interpret the poems' themes and analyze the use of poetic techniques and its impact. I also tell them that they will be thinking about these two prolific poets from different generations and races and how and why their experiences of life in America differ.

Because these two vocabulary words are unfamiliar to most of my students I then define them because I think they are important to understand the poems tone and mood: blithe and robust.


Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

Students are given copies of both the Walt Whitman “I Hear America Singing" and Langston Hughes’  “I, Too” poems I Hear America Singing and I Too.  I give them a TP-CASTT Poetry Analysis  organizer and ask them to make a prediction about what the poem is about considering the title “I Too Am America.” 

I begin by reading the poem “I Hear America Singing” out loud asking students to read silently. I then ask my students to read it silently again to themselves. I explain that this poem is filled with imagery and metaphor and ask for examples of each.  I facilitate a sharing of answers and analysis of how the poem is impacted by its words and images, RL.9-10.4.  I also ask students to read the context in which the two vocabulary words are in and pick out a clue that way help them define the words now that they know the definitions, L.9-10.4a. 

This activity can also be approached by first asking the students to read the poem and before giving them the words definitions asking them to define the words based on context clues. I chose to first give them the definitions (especially blithe) because context clues only work sometimes.  

I next explain that the video they will watch and listen to includes pictures describing the poems content. Students watch and read along to a video reading of “I Hear America Singing” (slide #5) and in their journals they will answer the power point analysis questions which include determining words that create the mood for the reader RL.9-10.4, (slide #6) . I then facilitate a discussion of student answers.

I then repeat the process that we have been following for the past few lessons in order to reinforce the importance of this skill of first asking students to make a prediction after reading the title followed by reading the poem “I, Too” out loud asking students to read silently. I then ask them to read it silently again to themselves.  Students watch and read along to a video reading of “I, Too” (slide #7) followed by answering the power point analysis questions which require evidence from the poem, RL.9-10.1, to support their written answers (slide #8). I then facilitate a discussion of student answers.  

If time permits, students fill out TP-CASTT analysis sheet on their own with no scaffolds, as was the case in other lessons, therwise they are given this task as their homework assignment.

I circulate among students to check for understanding and maintain focus on the task.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

Ticket to Leave

I want my students to reflect on the poems.  I ask them to share one memorable thing about each poem.  It could be something such as an image, a metaphor, or a theme that they share with class. I then facilitate a short discussion comparing Walt Whitman's view of America and Langston Hughes', SL.9-10.1,  RL.9-10.2, and RI.9-10.6 (Note: I align this lesson to RI.9-10.6 because it focuses on determining an author's point of view).  

In this section, I want my students to comment on why both poet's experiences of viewing America is different and how Walt Whitman may have influenced Hughes to write "I Too Am America."