We had just finished reading Night by Elie Wiesel and I couldn’t wait to discuss it with my students. I assigned a paragraph to write, collected it, and began sharing with the class. After reading five shallow paragraphs showing no depth of understanding, I wept.
Students laughed. They threw pencils at me. One pierced my ear lobe, but I didn’t mind. I deserved punishment. I had let them down. I had failed to teach them how to respond to literature.
The principal walked by my room. She came back during lunch, fired me, and suggested I develop new approaches to literature. She gave me a “New Approaches To Literature: Teaching Poetry as a Response to Literature” lesson plan as severance pay. I’m still jobless, but you’re more than welcome to use my lesson plan.
Teaching poetry doesn’t mean speaking with funny accents, growing long hair, and making no sense. Teaching poetry can be simple. With who-what-when-where-why-how poetry, students creatively summarize literary pieces.
Example: Of Mice and Men
George had no Choice
Lenny: big, fat, stupid lummox
Killed puppies, mice and Curley’s wife
He made the Great Depression even greater
In the Gabelan Mountains, near the river
George shot him before someone else did.
- Read a literary selection.
- Brainstorm answers to the who-what-when-where-why questions.
- Transform the answers into five poetic statements.
- Punctuate them properly.
- Create a title.
Use an acrostic to summarize plot:
Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Oh my goodness. What are you thinking?
My oh my. Look who’s killed Mercutio!
Ever fallen in love at first sight?
Oh my goodness, Romeo killed Tybalt
And has been banished
Now, what will Juliet do?
Undoubtedly, Friar Lawrence can help.
Lo, Juliet’s dead!
I know she’s faking.
Even if Romeo doesn’t
Try something different, next time.
- Choose a title.
- Brainstorm words that start with each letter in the title.
- Make it fit. It can also be used to analyze characters, setting, or any other literary element.
For a complete semester standards based curriculum guide, follow the link.
This post is part of the series: Teaching Poetry
Teach poetry without speaking with a funny accent.