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Lesson Plan

Varying Views of America

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Varying Views of America

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

Sharon Webster

Narragansett, Rhode Island


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Instruction and Activities


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • demonstrate an understanding of tone.

  • demonstrate an understanding of the role of cultural experiences on a writer's tone.

  • support their observations with evidence from the text both in oral and written form.

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Instruction and Activities

  1. Begin the first session with a minilesson reviewing the elements of "tone" and "point of view." This Checklist on the Elements of Literary Style could supplement the review.

  2. Then break the class into small groups and review the assignment handout, the Varying Views of America Student Interactive or the graphic organizer, and the rubric with the students.

  3. Each group will first read each of the poems and write a brief, succinct, summary of each poet's message, identifying the tone and point of view about his or her subject providing specific text for support.

  4. Next, the students should indicate on the Venn diagram the similarities all poems share, the similarities that exist between two at a time, and the qualities unique to each poem. Each member of the group will record the group's response using the graphic organizer provided.

  5. Proceed based on the resources that are available in your classroom for this lesson plan:
    If students are working with computers
    Once students have entered the details on the three poems on the Venn diagram student interactive, the interactive will ask them two synthesis questions. Remind students to print and/or save their work, following the instructions on-screen.

    If students are working without computers
    Students will gather details on the poems on their copies of the Varying Views of America graphic organizer. After the group has finished discussing the poem, ask each student to write on the back of the graphic organizer what he or she has inferred is the poet's view of America and how life experience affects each writer's tone and point of view.
  6. Bring the class back together to share their findings. Project the interactive Venn diagram or draw a three-circle Venn Diagram on the board. Have each group contribute their responses to a section of the graphic organizer.

  7. Discuss the differences or additions other groups or individuals contribute. Share the inferences students have made and draw conclusions about the influences, especially as they related to point of view, that shaped the tone of each selection.

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  • Have students write poems in response to one of the three poets as Hughes did to Whitman. Students should focus on tone (anger, sarcasm, humor, sadness, etc.) and emphasize their own backgrounds and life experiences through point of view.

  • Use this checklist of the Elements of Literary Style to extend this lesson by asking students to consider the checklist and draw conclusions about the style of the author whom they have examined.

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Assess both the graphic organizers and the reflective responses using the Varying Views of America Rubric.

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