Search This Blog

Friday, March 14, 2014

I really hope this takes a week: A poetry lesson

We are just about two weeks away from our eighth grade state reading test. As much as I hate standardized testing, it is currently part of the job, and it is still my responsibility to prepare my students for the exam. Before spring break, my department met to analyze data, and we discovered that the only real need to have for the test is more poetry. So, the next two weeks will be poetry. 

But I have an issue. One, I am writing lessons for a long-term sub in another class. Two, I am out of my classroom for three days next week for the ESL state reading exam. So I am essentially writing a test-prep lesson for two (very reliable and hardworking) subs to teach over the course of a week. 

I know my own pacing. I know how I would teach this in the classroom. I know the conversations I would have. How do I write all of that into lesson plans for other people? Why, a PowerPoint presentation, of course!

I have been studying for the high school certification exam and have been doing a lot of reading. Fortunately, there is a great deal of information in these texts regarding poetry, particularly regarding reader response,  and I am trying to incorporate as much of it as possible into the lesson. There is even more I would like to add, but I am trying to balance what the subs can handle without completely overdoing it. 

So here is the breakdown:

  • For the lesson, I am using the poem "Midnight" by Sara Holbrook. This poem was on last year's state exam. By using the poem and state questions, I am hoping to give my students a bit of familiarity with the exam format (our district assessments are honestly much harder). 
  • I am starting with a Quick Write simply to get the kids thinking prior to the reading, especially since this lesson is coming directly after spring break. 
  • The kids will be reading the poem on their own first. I do not expect them to understand
    everything about the poem, but they need the independent practice. During this reading, they will identify any words for which they need clarification. 
  • I (or the subs) will read the poem out loud. The kids need to hear fluent reading, particularly when it comes to poetry. In eleven years of teaching middle school, this has always been an issue. 
  • We will then break into a Think-Pair-Share activity. Based on the above readings, I am going to have the students write their thoughts about what they have read, whether it be questions, personal connections, or understanding. I want them to get the thoughts on their papers before we discuss. Not all students will speak up in a large group setting, and they all need a chance to express themselves. This also helps to meet the needs of my ESL students by giving them an opportunity to write and to speak. Hopefully, the subs can guide this discussion for a few minutes without too much pressure. 
  • The next step is to take Cornell notes over terms associated with the poem - speaker, stanza, simile, metaphor, personification. Based on previous test results, my students do not have too many issues with figurative language. I am more concerned with making sure that they understand that the speaker is not the poet. 
  • Although this is not necessarily what I would do if I was in class with the kids, I have added a section on paraphrasing. My own observations tell me that my students often get distracted by the format of a poem and lose focus of the meaning. I have written in a section with guiding questions to help them interpret the poem, then they will work collaboratively on the rest. 
  • As part of the reader response focus of this lesson, I am going to have them do a short writing assignment from the Teaching Reading book above. They will identify what they deem to be the most important word, phrase, and element, explaining why. This is an opportunity for them to reflect upon the meaning in a personal manner. 
  • At this point, the students will be answering the questions from last year's state test (blah). I rarely test in this manner in my classroom. Most of my assessments are much more holistic in nature and usually involve writing. But, this is the first exposure that they are going to have to questions from the state itself. 
  • The last part of the lesson involves test-taking strategies - breaking down the answer choices to determine why three answers are wrong and one is correct. The students tend to look for the right answer and do not take the time to effectively eliminate the wrong answers. I have done this since I started teaching, and it seems to help. I have added everything to the PPT that I think I would discuss in class. It's like me in clip art format!

If I was in the classroom, and it was not testing time, I would be doing this much differently. Sometimes, however, my hand is forced. Here's to hoping that this actually takes a week. 

No comments:

Post a Comment