Poems Put to Use
Gather examples of people using the recitation of poetry in practical situations . Procure the Poetry Out Loud CD (cue tracks 7 and 17), or find other recordings of people using the recitation of poetry for practical purposes in a variety of contexts. Gather a selection of high-quality and diverse poetry anthologies.
Launch: Teacher introduces idea that memorizing and reciting poetry can be useful. Class brainstorms situations in which recitation of memorized poetry might be useful. Teacher presents students with examples of poetry being recited in a variety of conte
Examples of texts you could use include: · Winston Churchill’s recitation of the sonnet “If We Must Die” by Claude McKay to rally resistance to Nazis · “The Shadow of the Past” chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings · The films Skyfall and Bright Star
Model: Teacher plays students recordings in which whole or partial poems are recited. (Tracks 7 and 17 of the Poetry Out Loud CD, or your own examples). Students engage in a discussion.
You can pose the students these and other discussion questions: · Why might each person have wanted to recite poetry in this context? · Are there some lines or types of poems that are better to recite in some contexts than others? · How is reciting all or part of a poem different from just talking?
Investigation: Students look through anthologies and find at least three passages that are interesting, powerful, or meaningful.
If students need more guidance, ask them to find lines or passages that would be useful in particular situations. For example: · Find three passages that would say something meaningful at a funeral. · Find three passages that would say something meaningful before an important sporting event. To prevent students from grabbing lines at random, ask them to justify their choices with a few lines explaining what each passage means, and how it would be useful in a particular context.
Investigation, cont.: Students bring passages home, and write a short piece of prose (two to three pages) in which the lines are used.
Feel free to give more direction if students need more scaffolding. For example, students could: · Write a story in which one or more characters recite lines of poetry · Write a letter in which the letter writer recites poetry to try to convince the recipient of something · Write a speech in which the quotations are used (a political speech, a graduation speech, a eulogy, or a wedding toast)
Synthesis: Students share writing with rest of class. They engage in group discussion about how and why people in general recite poetry, and how and why they could imagine themselves doing so.
Reflection: Students discuss the strategies and skills they used in order to learn what they did during this activity.