Unveiling the Significance of a Poet's Words: Identifying Figurative Language in "We Wear The Mask"

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Objective

SWBAT analyze the literary meaning of a poem by determining the figurative meaning of words and phrases

Big Idea

What does Paul Laurence Dunbar reveal in his words about the mask we wear in our lives?

Introduction

Today's lesson is a follow-up from Lesson #4. It will focus on the analysis of "We Wear The Mask" so that we can develop a deeper analysis of the text prior to completing our belief-based analysis in Lesson #6.

At the end of Lesson #4, it became clear to me that for my students to develop their positions they needed to have a deeper understanding of themes expressed in the poem. One way to accomplish this goal is to discuss the meaning of the figurative language in the poem.

This task is aligned to RL.9-10.4 and L.9-10.5 which focuses on interpreting the literary and figurative meaning of words in a text.

Warmup + Share

15 minutes

In this part of the lesson, I will have my students think of a real-life example of irony. I am choosing to focus on irony for the Warmup because it tends to be the most challenging example of figurative language for most of my students, and it plays a major role in establishing the central ideas in the poem. I am connecting to my students' personal life or their prior knowledge because when my students have a concrete example of a literary term, it makes it easier for me to introduce an abstract form of the literary term. This task is aligned to RL.9-10.4 and L.9-10.5 which focuses on interpreting the figurative meaning of words in a text.

During the Share, I will have my students express the parts of their response that fall under the following heading:

What you expected

What happened 

Is it the opposite?

Then, we will chart their responses as they express them. At the end, I will take my students to the Word Wall. When we are at the Word Wall, I will ask them which one of the literary terms could be used to label our examples on the chart. I will allow my students to to choose the literary term that they feel they could be used to label our examples on the chart.

The share in today's lesson is partially aligned to SL.9-10.1 because students participated in a teacher-led discussion. The elicited responses shared by the students were used to complete a template which led to the class acquiring a student-centered definition of situational irony.


Connect

15 minutes

During this section of the lesson, I will use a worksheet from the Literary Cavalcade Archives called What's Behind the Mask. This publication is no longer available for purchase from Scholastic.com, but you can view and print the handout from the Write It Teacher Center.

I am choosing this handout because it is teen friendly. It has reviews of the poem written by teens, and it has a very inviting layout.

I will have my students read sections on the Author's Life on Page 35 and write the main details in a sentence. The purpose of this task is to identify y students' awareness of paraphrasing which is aligned to SL.4.2. It is important for them to be able to convert the abbreviated data about the author and to rewrite it in sentences that may form a paragraph.

Each person will come up with a sentence. After my students record their sentences, I will them they will share their sentences and I will chart them. I will tell them that I will not record a sentence twice. So, if someone shares the same idea someone else shared, we will acknowledge it as a main point and move on. 

Before they share, I will review the process.

  • Each person will share one sentence
  • The teacher will record the sentences.
  • We will acknowledge a sentence if it is repeated more than one time, but we will not chart it a second or third time.
  • Each student will record the sentences they do not have on their paper.

 

 

Engagement

20 minutes

Figurative Language We Wear The Mask:

For this part of the lesson, I will take my students to the Word Wall. I will introduce the examples of figurative language and the definitions. Students will take turns opening the folded papers on the Word Wall: IRONY, SYMBOL, HYPERBOLE, METAPHOR and PERSONIFICATION. The definition will be recorded inside each folded paper.

Then, I will have my students return to their seats, and working in pairs, I will have them identify the following:

1. Symbols: (objects in the poem) that represent an idea. In the poem, the narrator talks about a figurative mask that people wear. What ideas does this mask represent?

2. Hyperbole: exaggerations that emphasize a central idea. In the poem, how does the narrator describe the mask? Do any of these descriptions seem "over the top" or melodramatic?

3. Personification: An object in the poem that has human qualities. Which human qualities does the narrator give to the figurative mask?

4. Metaphor: a comparison between two things that are not alike; the comparison has one image taking the place of the other. In the poem, what are the features the figurative mask? What makes the figurative mask different from a traditional mask?

4. Irony: Highlight the section of the text that reminds you of the definition of irony (when the opposite of what is expected happens). Then, express the irony in your own words. As we read the poem, what would we generally expect when a person wears a mask? What actually happens to the wearers of the mask in the poem?

I have defined the terms for today's lesson to fit the text we will be discussing in class because I want my students to be able to see how the definitions apply to the text. This approach serves to make the text readily accessible to my students even though I must warn my students that there are limitations to this approach. One clear limitation is the fact that every time we encounter these devices in the future the definitions may be slightly different from those given in today's lesson though there will be commonalities between today's definitions and future definitions of these terms.

I will inform my students that while today it may be somewhat easier for them to identify these examples of figurative language in the text, the next time they encounter these devices the definitions when applied to a new text may be slightly different. Still, I will assure them that each writer handles a device or a group of devices in his or her own unique way. Therefore, being open to slight variations or differences in the definition of a device helps you stretch the limits of your understanding of it.

My students will use their highlighters to label examples and they will write the name of the figurative language next to each highlighted text.

This task is aligned to RL.9-10.4 and L.9-10.5 which focuses on interpreting the literary and figurative meaning of words in a text.

 

Application

35 minutes

For this part of the lesson, I will have my students re-visit the worksheet from the Literary Cavalcade Archives called What's Behind the Mask. This publication is no longer available for purchase from Scholastic.com, but you can view and print the handout from the Write It Teacher Center.

I am choosing this handout because presents a format for analyzing a poem called unzipping. According to the creator of Poetry Unzipped, when you unzip a poem, analyze the meaning of the poem and you clarify the form behind the words. This process is aligned to our lesson which focuses on CCSS (RL.9-10.4 and L.9-10.5).

For our lesson today, when we identify the figurative language by highlighting specific words and phrases in the poem, we are clarifying the form behind the words. When we look at the author's purpose for writing the poem (to express racial injustice) and combine it with the figurative language expressed in the poem, we can arrive at the meaning of the poem . It has reviews of the poem written by teens, and it has a very inviting layout.

First, I will have my students read one of two student examples of Unzipping "We Wear The Mask" on Page 34 (Michael Wejchert) and Page 35 (Nana-Aba Nduom). I will have my students read each analysis. 

Second, I would ask them to identify the parts of WISE which are most evident in each analysis.

W = Words

I = Ideas (Author's Message about Racial Injustice)

S = Subject/Topic (Racial Injustice)

E = Emotions

Third, I would tell them that since our focus today is figurative language which focuses on words, we will be using WISE to analyze the poem. I would tell them that (S) has been done for them since the topic is racial injustice. So, they should spend the time working on the following:

1. Identifying the Author's message to the reader about racial injustice (I)

2. Identifying the words and phrases that establish the author's message about racial injustice. Consider the examples of figurative language: PERSONIFICATION, IMAGERY, SYMBOL, METAPHOR and HYPERBOLE. (W)

3. Identify the emotions the author/writer creates in the reader based on the words and phrases the writer chooses (E)

The writing task is partially aligned to W.7.1 because it focuses on developing explanatory text though it is shorter in length. In addition, the writing task is aligned to W.9-10.10 because the writing is over an extended period.

Closure

10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, I will have my students complete the 3-2-1 Reflection Sheet because I am focusing on using formative assessment to guide instruction. Therefore, I need to assess the outcome of the lesson to determine how I should develop future lessons for this class.

Homework/Extension Activity

20 minutes

I want my students to practice not only identifying, but also explaining examples of figurative language (similes, metaphors, personification, imagery and hyperbole) in a poem. (figurative language page1.JPG) and (figurative language page2.JPG)  

I want them to practice using these examples of figurative language in Wordsworth's poem from 1804 because it is a text that is unknown to them, and one that they would dismiss as too challenging. I chose this text for their initial analysis of figurative language because I want them to be more comfortable analyzing something that is unknown to them so that they will not be intimidated to analyze more challenging text.

They will look at the annotated text in William Wordsworth's poem, "I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud,"(wordsworth poem.JPG) and they will use the annotated definitions I prepared for them to create their explanations for the examples of figurative language in the text.

I choose to use the annotated texts because I want them to focus on how a specific type of figurative language is created in the poem, not on identifying the examples of figurative language.

The worksheet I created will focus on explaining examples of figurative language.

1. The simile "I wandered lonely as a cloud" is comparing two things using like or as

(#1) I wandered lonely      AS       (#2) a cloud

(a) What two things do you believe are being compared in this line? What does a person wandering lonely look like? What does a cloud look like when it is moving?

This task is aligned to RL.9-10.4 and L.9-10.5 which focuses on explaining the figurative meaning of words in a text and serves as further practice for my students based on today's lesson.