I am always looking for ways to incorporate more than one subject and this lesson covers them all! Science, math, and language arts all in one fun, engaging lesson.
1. Start off by reading and talking about the poem. I usually try to do this when there has been a current event that involves an earthquake somewhere in the world or during our earthquakes and volcanoes unit.
2. Divide class into four groups (the fourth group is the easiest so this is the perfect time for differentiation!). Each student works independently but will be comparing their answers at the end of this first activity.
3. Each student is assigned one stanza of the poem to analyze the frequency with which each letter of the alphabet appears. They place tic marks (I do groups of five) on their worksheet and then tally up their totals at the end. This looks easy but it requires lots of concentration and patience. Upon completion, each group gets together and comes up with the correct totals. You will be surprised at the discrepancies between the student responses and it is always interesting to see how they support their totals!
4. Then, as a class we combine each of the totals for each stanza and record on the additional answer sheet.
5. With a calculator, students calculate the decimal and percent for each letter.
6. This information is used to construct a bar graph.
7. Finally, students are asked a couple of questions based on the diagram and a Letter Frequency Chart.
8. The lesson concludes with a Cryptogram. Students use what they have learned about letter frequency to help them solve the puzzle.