Lesson Plan Block 6


Block 6 (One to two lesson plans)
Learning Targets: Students will be able to:

·      Respond to poetry, citing evidence from the poem that supports conclusions drawn from details.

·      Use concrete visual or textual evidence to support multiple interpretive claims about a painting and about poems.

·      Put texts into conversation with each other and generate new insights through the comparative analysis.

·      Analyze a poem and for both denotative and connotative meanings. Analyze the impact of the author’s textual choices in creating an overall effect.

·      Analyze a critical essay, identifying its central argument and connecting it to poetry.

Common Core Standards Alignment: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.1

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.


Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)


Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.


Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).


Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.


Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.




Writing prompt.

·      Have students get out their journals.

·      Project or distribute paper copies of a painting with a lot of detail in it. I like to use Norman Rockwell’s “Breaking Home Ties” in this exercise, but choose artwork that speaks to many members of your community. Have students create two columns in their journals.   At the top of column 1, write “What I See.” At the top of column 2, write “What It Might Mean.” Have them start with column 1 exclusively and write down every little detail they notice about the painting. Make sure they know that this part of the exercise is going to go on quite a bit longer than they think it should! When they think they’ve found every single little detail, encourage them to look again, look closer. The longer they look, the more details will start to emerge. However (and this is very important), they must LIST details without INTERPRETING those details. In other words, for “Home Ties,” they can write “older man” and “younger man,” but not “father and son” because that is an interpretation.  

·      Once they’ve spent an uncomfortably long time listing details, have them start providing interpretations of those details in column two. For the Rockwell painting, they need to address things like, “What is the profession of the men? What are they feeling right now? Where did they likely come from? Where are they likely going? What is the purpose of the dog?” The interpretations should be based upon (and provable by way of) what they saw in column 1.

·      Reinforce the fact that one detail can have a range of possible interpretations; there is no single definitive interpretation.   However, students should learn to support their claims with good evidence from the visual or written text.

·      Invite them to share interpretations with the class.   With each interpretation, continue to ask students, “How do you know?” In other words, encourage them to back up their claims using evidence from the painting.

·      This hook activity helps cultivate some important skills in close reading and interpretation of a visual text. These skills, as you’ll see, are highly transferable to written texts. This activity could easily take up an entire class period, but it can also be done pretty well in 15 minutes. The pacing is up to you.

Scaffolded learning activities: ESSAY READING AND ANALYSIS

·      Pass out copies of Denise Leto’s essay “Oulipo at the Laundromat.”

·      Read the essay silently, aloud to your students, using the “popcorn method” (assuming that all students feel comfortable reading aloud in front of the whole class), or read it aloud in small groups.

·      Discuss* Leto’s primary argument and how she supports it.

·      Have students write about a time when, for one reason or another, it was difficult or impossible for them to speak. Have them explore how they felt in that circumstance.


·      Have students read, first silently and then aloud in small groups, Denise Leto’s poems “Plaza Series.1” and “The Lost Word Association.”

·      Model for students how to find and interpret details. For example, in the first column, you could write something like “images of movement—‘traveling’ ‘passes’ and ‘walks.’” In the second column, as an interpretation of that dynamic diction, you could write something like “feeling like it’s hard to join the world because people move (or speak) too quickly” or “feeling left out and unnoticed as people pass by.”

·      Have students work in small groups, and give each group a sheet of big paper and some markers. Have them pick a poem to analyze. Then have them draw 2 columns, like they did for the writing prompt, and label the first column “What I notice” and the second “What it might mean.” Have them start by listing important “telling” details they notice in the poem they’ve chosen and list those details in the first column. Then have them write in the second column interpretations of those details.   Remind students that, especially in poetry, a single word or image can have a range of possible meanings.

·      Toward the close of the activity, have them write a single sentence that captures the meaning of the poem as a whole and write it at the top of the page.

Hang the big paper posters around the room and have students circulate and read their classmates’ analyses.


·      Teacher, you have a couple of options here in regard to how you frame the assignment.

1)   You can keep the response informal and have students react to what they notice in the poems, explain how the poems are helping them think in new ways about the subject of disability, and make connections to other texts, films, songs, etc. You can have them choose just one poem to respond to or ask them to respond to 2 or 3. The length is up to you; I think two double-spaced pages is a good length for an informal response like this.

2)   You can have them do a more formal, academic response in which you have them make a claim about one of the poems and support the claim with textual evidence.   You can have them explain how the author uses such literary elements as tone, imagery, point of view, and figurative language to convey a certain idea or perspective. I think 3-5 double-spaced pages is a good length

3)   You can do a hybrid of the two, with an informal response followed by a more in-depth analysis.

·      When the assignment should be due is going to depend on which one you choose. An informal response only needs one or two days.   A more in-depth analysis needs more time. You may also want to give students time to work on their poetry responses in class so that they can get feedback from you during the writing process. This will depend on how much time you have and what resources you have (laptops in 1:1 classrooms, computer labs. libraries, etc.).

Independent application: Poetry response #2; read Me, chapters 14-15
Materials: Journals for students. Copies of Denise Leto’s essay and poems. Big paper and markers.
Accessibility: ·      Depending on students’ olfactory sensitivity, you may want to use unscented markers.

·      If you have visually impaired students, the “what I notice/what it means” activity will work just as well if you play something like Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Have students write down details they notice in the dynamics, speed, rhythm, key, etc., and then interpret what they think the composer was trying to communicate through those details. Then you can describe to students the pictures that inspired the music and see how closely their descriptions match Mussorgsky’s.

*Discussions may be adapted to the form best suited for your students. You could make this discussion a “think-pair-share,” a whole class discussion, or a small group discussion. If it is a whole-class discussion, consider allowing students to participate by writing their thoughts on notecards if they would rather not speak aloud in front of all the other students.



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