"Introduction to A Poem"

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SWBAT construct a concept about moving beyond literal to inferential understanding.

Big Idea

Literal to inferential: What is the poet suggesting?

My Lens

This poetry comprehension lesson builds on a writing lesson students participated in last week- "How to _____________ a Poem".

I will be asking students to remember that poets use figurative language to suggest a beneath the surface meaning: 

Today's lesson builds on yesterday's lesson Descriptive Words= Images in the Mind  in that students will be illustrating the stanzas. Students will compare imagery in the first 2/3 of the poem with the last 1/3 of the poem.  I am curious to see what students make of this.



15 minutes

Say,  "Today students we will will start with rereading Eve Merriam's poem "How To Eat a Poem"

Project poem. "Students take a minute to read this poem to yourselves.  Who will read it aloud?"  Call on student(s) to read.

"Last week, we studied this poem and thought about the meaning behind the imagery and metaphor.  Turn and compare your ideas about what this poem means."  Listen in and rephrase what you hear.  I am anticipating that students will say the poem is about anyone can read poetry and enjoy it because it says "it's ready and ripe whenever you are."  This poem is also about nothing is wasted because it says, " there is no core, or stem, or rind. or pit, or seed, or skin to throw away.  I think this means that every word in the poem is important and shouldn't be thrown away."

Now I want you to listen to another poem by Billy Collins titled, "Instruction to a Poem Collins".

Read poem.


"Now, I'll project the poem on the screen.  I want you to analyze how the poem is written on the page. Turn and compare your thoughts on how the poem is written."  Listen in and rephrase.  "I see that the poet wrote the lines in triplets, couplets and single lines."

"Good job, I agree."  Billy Collins did write in triplets, couplets and single lines.  I think he wrote it that way because the lines in one stanza work together to paint one picture in the mind of the reader.

One way we can understand the meaning of a poem is to draw a picture in the margins of each stanza.  In a minute you will go back to your seats and sketch a picture to go with each stanza  as way of picturing what are the words saying.

Independent work/ Small group

15 minutes

Step One:  

Students go to their seats to draw pictures to construct a literal meaning of each stanza of the poem.

ES work

(Extension: On the back is another poem titled "Words" by Venus Khoury-Ghata.  Some students will also be drawing the images that each stanza creates in their mind and thinking about the literal vs the inferential meaning of the words.)

(Intervention:  Pull up a small group of heterogenous students (sped, ell, & gen ed) to work with me  on the rug.  I will ask questions to elicit their ideas on what to draw for each stanza and model my pics, too.

*"Students, I want to give you a tip  when you are illustrating to understand a poem.  Compare and contrast the images and look for ways they are alike and how they are different.  

After about 10 minutes, interrupt students and ask, "What do you notice about the pictures you drew in the first 2/3 of the poem compared the pictures in the last third of the poem?"

Is their a mood or feeling change?  Why or why not.

Discuss what you think the poem is really about at your tables.


Share out

15 minutes

Model for the students how to write three answer stems at the bottom of their poem sheet.  Have students write an answer stem at the bottom of their poem.

(or use handout)

Start with question 1.  Direct students 2 and 4 to talk to their partners  about the pictures in the first 2/3 of the poem and the mood they suggest.  

1.  The pictures in the first 2/3 of the poem are________________________ and the feelings/mood they suggest are________________.

Lead a whole class discussion of question 1.

Continue in the same manner or the next two questions. Alternating which partners talk first.

2. The pictures in the last 1/3 of the poem are _____________________ and the feelings/mood suggest ______________________


3.  This makes me think the poem is really about _________________

After all questions have been discussed with partners, and whole group direct students to write their answers base on our discussions.