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Lesson Plan

Poetry Reading and Interpretation Through Extensive Modeling

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Poetry Reading and Interpretation Through Extensive Modeling

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Eight 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Ryan James Dippre

Milford, Pennsylvania

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Session Five

Session Six

Session Seven

Session Eight

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will:

  • interpret the meaning of symbols in a poem.
  • apply skills of interpretation to a new poem.
  • plan and construct an essay that evaluates a poem.
  • justify evaluative decisions with direct quotes from a poem and explanatory sentences.

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Session One

  1. Begin a discussion with students about John Berryman and his works; ask introductory questions to see if students have any background knowledge on the subject.
  2. Give each student a copy of the Berryman Biography Notes and Research Questions with space for them to fill in information as you discuss.  These notes consist of basic facts about John Berryman’s life and works.  Through your whole-class discussion of Berryman's life, give the lettered notes as details as the students write the notes down.
  3. After the discussion is complete and the students have finished their notes on Berryman, pose the three research questions that students will use to guide their learning (on the Berryman Biography Notes and Research Questions handout).
  4. To research the three questions that were posed, students are to search the internet for answers using the credible sources listed (see Websites section).  By the end of the session, students should have the answer to all three questions with works cited using the sources in the Websites section. You may also choose to allow students time to research using books available in the classroom or the library.  If necessary, students can finish this work outside of this session.

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Session Two

  1. Review and discuss the notes taken in the previous session on Berryman’s life, particularly regarding the three research questions.  Allow time for students to ask questions and clarify information.
  2. Hand out a non-annotated copy of “Sole Watchman.”
  3. Read the poem three times:
    • For the first reading, students read the poem to themselves.
    • For the second reading, select students to read sentence by sentence through the poem.
    • For the final reading, have the entire class read the poem aloud, together.
  4. Give students five minutes to annotate the poem.  Explain that they are to identify, in the margins of the poem, any strange, well-spoken, exciting, or confusing words, phrases, or sentences.  Use the Instructor Annotation for "Sole Watchman" as a guide for the discussion.
  5. Organize the students in pairs to share and discuss the annotations they made.
  6. Come back together as a whole class and discuss the text and the annotations that students completed.  If possible, project the poem for students to see and annotate the poem as the class discusses their findings.
  7. As a class, decide on the basic meaning of the poem by breaking down every sentence so that the students understand what is going on.  Students should copy down your sentence-by-sentence summary in their notebooks or on the poem itself.
  8. Ask students to look for two large and obvious connections that the poem has to the author’s life and write them down in their notebooks or on the poem.  Discuss these connections that students found and how they seem to be connected.
  9. Close the session with an Exit Slip:
    • What do you feel is the best use of phrasing in the poem?

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Session Three

  1. Have students share and review the poem, summary, and annotations from the previous session.
  2. Give each student a copy of the Essay Assignment Information, Sample Essay Assignment, and Berryman Essay Rubric.
  3. Discuss, in detail, the essay assignment and review the Sample Essay Assignment so that students have a firm understanding of the expectations.  Remind them that they will be writing an essay just like this on another poem.
  4. Review the rubric, concentrating on the key criteria for each component, and allow time for students to clarify and ask questions about how they will be assessed.
  5. Using the “Sole Watchman” Thesis PowerPoint, explain how the author reached the conclusions in the Sample Essay Assignment.  Be sure to emphasize that this is not the only interpretation, but one of many possible interpretations.
  6. Move through the steps provided in the essay assignment as students write down pertinent information for each section and time is allowed for questions.
  7. After working through the thesis statement, ask students to score the thesis according to the rubric’s “focus” component, and explain why they scored it as they did.  Ask students to write down their score and their explanation on an Exit Slip.

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Session Four

  1. Begin with working through the previous class’s Exit Slips.  Discuss the students' responses and explain any confusing details.
  2. Finish explaining the organization and outline if this was not completed in the previous session.  Allow time for students to ask questions and clarify things about the assignment.
  3. As a class, begin writing the essay using the Essay Writing PowerPoint as a guide.
  4. The Essay Writing PowerPoint takes students through the first three paragraphs of the essay.  Once these paragraphs are finished, break students into groups of three or four.  Ask students to score the style and mechanics of those paragraphs (using the rubric) and explain why they made the choices that they did.  If time allows, have groups share their scores and explanations.
  5. At the conclusion of the session, have students complete another Exit Slip asking the following:
    • Explain one area of the essay or rubric that is confusing or concerning in the process so far.

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Session Five

  1. Review briefly the steps to the essay for “Sole Watchman” using the Sample Essay Assignment.
  2. Clarify any confusion that arose on the Exit Slips from the previous session..
  3. Break the class into groups of two, and give each pair a copy of the Sample Essay.  Ask students to score the essay for content and organization according to the rubric.  Each pair should write down an explanation of why the essay scored the way that it did.
  4. Have each group write the evidence for the score on the board or chart paper so the students understand what makes a strong essay.  You may also wish to share with students the Sample Essay with Annotations, which includes comments that may pertain to the assessment of the essay.
  5. Give each student a copy of “The Ball Poem" and read the poem through three times:
    • For the first reading, have the students read the poem to themselves.
    • For the second reading, select students to read sentence by sentence through the poem.
    • For the final reading, have the entire class read the poem aloud, together.
      • Note: Gauge if students need this final reading.  Some understand the rhythm just fine after the second reading.
  6. Give students approximately five minutes to annotate “The Ball Poem".  They are to identify, in the margins of the poem, any strange, well-spoken, exciting, or confusing words, phrases, or sentences.  Discuss these briefly.
  7. As a class, decide on the basic meaning of the poem by breaking down every sentence so that the students understand what is going on.   Students should copy down your sentence-by-sentence summary in their notebooks or on the poem itself.
  8. Give students time to begin selecting an item to focus on for their essays.  They should begin writing down as many options that interest them as they can, so that they have more to work with when constructing thesis statements.
  9. Close the session with an Exit Slip:
    • What do you feel is the best use of phrasing in the poem?

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Session Six

  1. Review “The Ball Poem" briefly.  A re-read aloud by the teacher may be helpful.
  2. Review the standout Exit Slips from the previous class and discuss students' thoughts on the phrasing of the poem.
  3. Explain the steps for thesis writing using the Essay Assignment Information.  Allow time for students to share their thoughts and ask questions about the thesis and outline.
  4. Give students the remainder of the session to write their thesis statements and work on their outlines.
  5. Students need to come to the next session with a completed thesis and outline.  As students work, rotate regularly through the classroom to check on thesis progress and answer questions.

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Session Seven

  1. Allow students to use this session to work toward the completion of their essays.  Students may choose to use the interactive Essay Map to plan and organize their essays.  If possible, allow access to a word processing program on computers for students to type their essays.
  2. As the students are completing their essays, check thesis statement quality and understanding of the text in mini-conferences (one to two minutes in most cases) to make certain that students are not moving in the wrong direction or unprepared to tackle the assignment.
  3. Remind students to bring a printed rough draft of whatever they have to the revising and editing session.
    • Note: You may choose to repeat this session again if you feel that students need more in-class time to work on the completion of their essays. 

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Session Eight

  1. Ask students to take out their copy of the Berryman Essay Rubric and review it as a class, reminding students of the expectations.  Before beginning the revising and editing process, share with students the Revising/Editing PowerPoint.
  2. Students will begin the assessment process with their own essays.  They should check for:
    • Heading
    • Pagination
    • Font size and style
    • Spacing
    • Works cited page
    • In-text citations
  3. After students have reviewed their own essays, collect the papers and redistribute them randomly (or you may choose to let students choose a partner who will be assessing their essays in the next step).  Students will now, with an essay that is not their own, look for:
    • Thesis statement
    • Topic sentences
    • Transitions
  4. Students should underline the thesis statement, circle the topic sentence of each paragraph, and draw a box around any generic or awkward transitions.
  5. The students will once again have their essays collected and redistributed (or a new partner will be chosen to swap wtih) for editing.  Students will now, with another new paper, look for:
    • Pronoun-Antecedent agreement
    • Dangling modifiers
    • Mixed sentences
    • Spelling errors
    Note: It is assumed that students have already been taught about the above elements of writing.  If this is not the case, these terms/ideas need to be taught prior to this session, or the editing expectations can be changed to fit the needs and understanding of the students.
  6. At the conclusion of the session, make sure all papers are returned to the proper students.  Students should use the recommendations made by their classmates to revise their essay to turn in a final draft by the given date.
    • Note: In the next session, if you choose to do so, students may share their final essays with their classmates either verbally or by posting/passing around the essays.

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EXTENSIONS

  • Students who are able to master the three poems in this selection easily can move on to Berryman’s celebrated but difficult work, The Dream Songs.  Selections from The Dream Songs can be found in the Websites section.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • Students should be informally assessed throughout the lesson on their understanding of the material based on their active participation in whole-class and group discussions, as well as their notes and other written work (outline, etc.)
  • Students' final essays will be scored by the instructor using the Berryman Essay Rubric.

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