The process of understanding and bringing meaning to poetry instills fear in many of our students. Oftentimes, when students merely look at a poem, they immediately decide they cannot understand it, even before they read through it once.
This lesson uses the Inquiry-Based Learning model and critical thinking/reasoning skills. Students are first presented with a Wordle(TM) image (the jumbled words of the poem). Students are asked to spot any "word patterns" in the jumbled text of the poem. As the lesson progresses, students will reassemble the poem line by line, learning about rhythm structure and rhyme pattern. This entire process will help demystify the task of decoding a poem.
In my experience delivering this lesson, students find this activity fun and engaging as they try and "piece together" the mystery poem. It is often amazing to me how closely they come to understand the poem's "true" meaning when simply looking at the jumbled words on the page. Then they are proud of themselves when, as a class, we look at the original poem and discuss its themes and meaning.
I usually teach this lesson to my students in Grade 10 or above, though I could see it working well with Grades 8 and 9 as well.
This 14-page .pdf document includes:
- Detailed 65-minute lesson plan, including extension activities.
- Seven accompanying overhead slides/transparencies.
- Wordle(TM) image of poem's vocabulary.
- Alphabetically-ordered version of the poem.
- Copy of the original illustrated poem as well as a typed-out, easier to read, version.
- Handout: The poem's lines are jumbled and need to be reordered.