Quick History Lesson with "Southern Mansion"
If you just want to use fiction to introduce or close out a topic you are covering, poetry is perhaps the best way to go. Poems are short, easy to reproduce for class copies, and students, because of what they are learning in English classrooms, already have the ability to deconstruct poems. Take a look at the quick, downloadable lesson below that illustrates the idea of how to incorporate poetry into a Social Studies classroom.
Let’s start with the poem Southern Mansion. It’s a quick, one period lesson that paints a picture of life on a plantation for slaves. Students will be familiar with the literary terms used in the assignment from their literature class. More importantly, they will start to see CONNECTIONS between English and Social Studies. This reinforces reading skills.
Distribute the Student Worksheet and go over vocabulary. Have three students read the three stanzas aloud. Other students should underline any words within poem that make them think of an image/picture. Explain simile and ask students if they can find a simile within the poem. (If nobody can, the teacher will identify.) Explain imagery and ask students what words they underlined in the poem. Find how why they chose certain words. On the top of Student Worksheet, have students illustrate one of the images they identified in the poem. While students are drawing the image, circulate to ensure understanding. Explain briefly the meaning/content of the poem to the students. Students should answer the Comprehension Check questions on the worksheet. Go over answers briefly. If time permits, have each student develop an opening sentence for the writing assignment. Place the opening sentence in Thesis Box on the worksheet.
At the end of the class period, you have a writing assignment that any English teacher would be proud of. This is an alternative assessment grade in the form of an illustration that allows students who learn in different ways the chance to excel on an assignment, and most importantly, you have had a class discussion that allowed students to use sensory images to really gain an understanding of a historical time period. Poetry is a great teaching tool and recourse for Social Studies teachers!
"Southern Mansion" Power Point