Since students tend to have a hard time with analysis, this lesson allows students to think critically about the importance a word or phrase can have in creating meaning. Students then must support their decision with both a written and oral explanation. Students, even AP students, often have trouble justifying their opinions and analysis using text. After we do this, we will do a pointed reading of the poem followed by a class discussion.
A. I will read aloud W.D. Snodgrass’s “Heart’s Needle.” Students will follow along as I read.
B. Students will then read the poem to themselves. After they have read the poem, they will write in their notebooks what they think is the most important word and the most important phrase in the poem and why. They will take about 10 minutes to complete this.
C. Students will then get into groups of two or three and read their answers and explanations to each other. It is important the students read their answers instead of summarize. Students will have 10 to 20 minutes to do this, depending on how much time they need to continually be productive. Students will have already had this type of peer-conference, so they already know their job is to either affirm or rearrange or learn something new about each other’s thinking.
D. Students will move back into their seat and we’ll do what is called a Pointed Reading. I’ll read the poem again aloud, and this time students will join me in reading aloud when we get to their most important word and phrase. Students will be able to hear everyone’s choices and will be able to see what words or phrases were popularly chosen.
E. We will then make a chart on the board of everyone’s answers and a brief recording of why they chose their words or phrases. We will then discuss the poem.
What usually happens is by the time we’ve finished going over everyone’s different answers, we’ve done a thorough analysis of the poem. If this doesn’t happen, I’ll lead us into a more complete analysis of the poem.