Lesson 1: Rhythm and Beats with Free Verse
Objective: Students will be able to hear the rhythm through a variety of poems that are free verse. Students will read poems accurately. Students will write their own free verse poetry.
Essential Questions: Why did the author repeat words or phrases in the poem? How did the author's word choice change the mood of the poem? What tone did the author want to portray? How does the placement of line breaks change the poem?
Procedure Day 1:
1. Introduce the idea of reading poetry by asking the class "Why do people write poetry?" Engage the class in a discussion about why authors choose to write in this genre. Then engage in a conversation about student past experiences with reading and writing poetry.
2. Explain that many poets create an original structure with rhythm and movement.
3. Introduce Shel Silverstein's poem titled "Falling Up." Explain to students that poetry has to be read carefully and should always be read more than once. Then read through the poem. Read through a second time and have the students read with you. Have the students read the poem a third time alone.
4. Ask students to share what they feel when reading this poem. Have students turn and talk and give evidence to prove their thinking. Praise students for their creativity and risk taking while giving evidence.
5. Introduce the idea of tone by explaining that many times the author wants to leave the reader with a particular feeling. Have students look back to the poem and try to find more evidence to support how the author could have intentionally made them feel a certain way.
6. Next students should focus on the beat. Students should notice a beat to the poem that creates a rhythm. This poem has about two beats per line. The beats are not in the exact same positioning per line. However, it still has melodic qualities.
7. Choose a student to provide the main beat for this poem. The student should clap twice during each line. Read the poem and have the whole class find the beat. Then have students brainstorm other instruments that could be used for the beat of this poem. You can use cans filled with beans to help shake the beat of the poem.
8. Then have students look at the poem's structure more closely. Have students turn to talk to partners to share what they notice in this poem. List students' observations on chart paper. Students should notice repetition of the word "up" and the phrase "up over." Have students discuss if this helps the rhythm of the poem. Ask, "Do the lines with repetition have more rhythm?"
9. Have students read the poem "Complainin' Jack" by Shel Silverstein. They should work together in partners to read the poem with rhythm. They could use homemade instruments to help them say the poem with rhythm or simply clap it out. Have them notice the repetition of the phrase "in-the-box" and word "complain" and discuss if the repetition adds to the rhythm. Some students might notice that the last stanza has a faster rhythm then the rest of the poem. If students notice this they should be complimented for their creativity. Students should perform a reading of the poem and students should notice the variety in performances.
Procedure Day 2:
1. Use the poem "Falling Up" again with students. This time they will work on line breaks in the poem. Students will alter the poem by changing the line breaks. Have students read their new poem and explain how the rhythm or feeling/ton has changed.
2. Students should look through a variety of poetry either found online or using the classroom collection of poetry books. They should try to find examples of poetry that has strong rhythm. They must write down the examples they find in their readers response journal to be able to use it later in their anthology. They should practice reading the poem with rhythm and using instruments to enhance the sound of the poem. They should then perform their poetry for the class using instruments.
3. Have students write their own free verse poem that has a strong rhythm. The poems can be finished for homework. This poem will be saved to used later in the student's anthology
Assessment: Students will be assessed on their responses to the essential questions. They will be assessed on how they read each poem and how they use the instruments to create a beat for the poem. They will also be assessed on being able to find a poem with strong rhythm. Lastly, they will be assessed on their writing based on creativity and rhythm.
Lesson 2: Syllables as Beats
Objective: Students will be able to note the structure variety of haikus. Students will read poems accurately and expressively. Students will be able to connect a beat to the syllables of the poems. Students will be able to compose their own poetry in the same format.
Essential Questions: Why are poems structured with syllable rules? What tone do many haikus have?
Procedure Day 1:
1. Introduce Kobayashi Issa, a famous Japanese writer, who wrote many haikus. Post a variety of his poems. Read them aloud for the class to hear and then have students chorally read the poems.
2. Have students describe and list what they notice about haikus. They should start feeling more comfortable with the idea of tone. Students should share with a partner the way the author made them feel when reading the poem. The class can then discuss their thinking aloud. They should also note that most haikus offer simple explanations or describe nature.
3. The teacher can have students work on the beats they hear in the poem. The teacher should read the poem and clap the syllables. They should then read the poem and clap each syllable.
4. Make sure they note that haikus are short poems organized through syllable structure. They should note that there is a five, seven, five syllable structure per line.
5. Students will use the class library or internet to help them select their three favorite haikus. They will write these down to be placed in their anthology.
6. Students can work independently or in pairs to create music to correspond to the syllables of the poem.
7. Instruments such as maracas, drums, or xylophones can be used to make a sound for each syllable. If instruments cannot be borrowed or made, students can clap along with each syllable.
8. Depending on how complicated an instrument you choose, students can make louder, softer, higher, or lower beats to correspond to each syllable. Allow experimentation with noises and ask students why they chose to create the sound the way they did. Since the poems are so short, they should also be able to perform them with their instruments.
9. Students will write their own haikus about nature. They will brainstorm as many senses as they can about the season you are currently experiencing in a web organizer. They will then choose a few ideas to write a haiku.
10. Their haikus will be published to be put into their anthology.
Assessment: Students will be assessed on their responses to the essential questions. They will be assessed on how they clap the syllables. Lastly, they will be assessed on their poetry writing.
Lesson 2: Soft and Hard Beats
Objective: Students will be able to hear the rhythm of a variety of poems. Students will read poems accurately. Students will be able to compose their own poetry in a similar format.
Essential Questions: What makes a poem have movement or rhythm? How do you know a poem has movement or rhythm when you read it? How does an author create tone?
Procedure Day 1:
1. Introduce Emily Dickinson a unique poet. Give a brief overview of Dickinson's life. Explain things about her such as she was a normal young girl and would like to go to parties and spend time with friends. Even though she socialized she was thought of as a shy girl. She was so shy that she wouldn't attend a school without her brother. When she became a teen she began spending more time alone and started writing poetry. She has said that literature can "take us lands away."
2. Post "The Moon was but a Chin of Gold" by Dickinson. Read the poem three times as explained above.
3. Students should be able to reflect on the tone of this poem without talking to peers. Have students write down the tone of the poem and provide evidence in their reading response journals.
4. Have students describe what they notice that is different about this poem. They should notice the pattern of four lines then a stanza break and an ABCB rhyming pattern.
5. Once everyone has gotten the feeling for the rhythm of the poem, explain to the class that Dickinson used a specific style of writing that helps readers know how to read her poems. Explain that this rhythm is similar to the rhythm in many hymns. Play the first verse of "Amazing Grace" (you may need to obtain permission to play this song because it is a church hymn). Have students compare and contrast the sounds of "Amazing Grace" and "The Moon was but a Chin of Gold." Students should note that both song and poem have the same rhythm. Students can sing "The Moon was but a Chin of Gold" to the same rhythm as "Amazing Grace."
6. Ask a volunteer to try to clap the beat along with the song. The student will most likely clap out the loud beats. Help direct their rhythm so that it matches with the meter.
7. Have students notice that there are soft and hard sounds. Show the students the rhythm of the first line by clapping your thighs for the weak syllables and clapping your hands loudly for the strong syllables. You can underline the syllables that are strong so that students see this clearly. Have students share and discuss what they notice, then continue with the rest of the stanza. Discuss and chart what you notice about the entire stanza. Students should note the four, three, four, three stress for each line. Have students practice clapping the last two stanzas with a partner.
8. Post four examples of Dickinson's poems (Some examples are "I Started Early, Took my Dog," "It's all I have to Bring Today," "She Sweeps with many-Colored Brooms," and "The grass has so little to do with it.") Read the poems aloud with students. Have students choose which poem they like the best. They will then work with a partner and practice clapping out the beats.
9. Give them time to reflect on what they learned with their partner in a readers' response journal. They should also copy their favorite Dickinson poem to be used in their anthology.
Procedure Day 2:
1. Introduce the author Jack Prelutsky. Explain that he is one of the most frequently anthologized poets today. He has written over thirty books and anthologies aimed to entertain young readers.
2. Explain that students will use their knowledge acquired yesterday to help them read Prelutsky's poems today. Have students read, "I Wish I had a Dragon" by Prelutsky. Read the poem three times as explained above. This poem has much more voice and expression then the poems previously read. Make sure to read with a lot of voice. Have the students compare and contrast Prelutsky's style with Dickinson in their reader's response journal. They should also note the different tone.
3. Students should note that there is a different amount of syllables per line more expression. They should also notice that it is the same soft then hard syllable structure and ABCB rhyming pattern.
4. Then have students clap out the syllables together as a class. You can underline where the students clapped loudly so that they can see it clearly. Discuss what the students notice. They should notice that Prelutsky has two stanzas with eight lines each. They should notice that each line has three stressed syllables, and that every other line rhymes.
5. Provide copies of Prelutsky's books so that you have one copy for every two children. Have students search through the anthologies for poems from Jack Prelutsky that follow the soft clap hard clap pattern. If they are having trouble, then they can count the syllables and try to find a six/seven syllable pattern. Have students share their poems orally and by clapping out the soft and hard syllables in front of the class.
6. Students should also copy their favorite Prelutsky poem into their reader's response journal to be used in their anthology.
Extension: For homework, Students will then try to write their own couplet ABAC pattern poems. While sharing with the class the following day, they can note if the poems have a soft hard pattern in any of their lines.
Assessment: Students will be assessed on their responses to the essential questions. They will be assessed on their understanding of tone. They will be assessed on how they clap the syllables. Lastly, they will be assessed on their poetry writing.