This week-long unit will help you help students with two things they often find difficult: analyzing poetry and writing essays. In this 16-page document, you will find
1) An original sample poem written by the author and an essay prompt for style analysis (Overhead Master and Reproducible versions). The subject of the original poem deals with an attitude about death, a common motif found in many poems studied in high school curricula. 2) A line-by-line explication of the poem and a brief discussion (with possible answers) to generate critical thinking. 3) A writing template and detailed instructions for writing a poetry analysis for the original poem, including example sentences, an introduction, and a conclusion for a sample essay on the original poem.
4) "Style Analysis Lead-Ins,” a list of 25 sentence starters to help students write more effectively when quoting a text.
I have had much success over the years with templates like this one. My students become much better writers and critical thinkers. A key component to any meaningful writing course is good modeling. With this template and with your help as a student-centered teacher who encourages critical thinking, your students' writing will improve greatly. An added benefit is the boost to students' confidence when they learn that they, too, can write well and understand more about poetry as they dig deeper to uncover possible meaning.
I have used these templates with students who are at basic skill level as well as with students in AP Language and Composition. These templates are great for all writers, with some guidance from the teacher, because they give examples and basic instructions, but they also challenge students to think critically and expand their ideas, which is where the fun is.