K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

  • Students will compare and contrast a poem written by a North Carolina American Indian poet with a poem written by a Native American from a different tribe.
  • Students will create a painting, which illustrates the mood, images, or theme of a poem written by a Native American.
  • Students will compose an original poem inspired by an object related to a North Carolina Native American group.
  • Students will compose a “found” poem using words or phrases from books about Native Americans.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

45–60 minutes a day for five days. The unit might work best if the five days of instruction are consecutive, but teachers could try designating every other day or every Friday as Native American Poetry Workshop.

Materials/resources

After the first introductory day, the class will need to be rearranged so that there will be four work centers which can accommodate a group of five to seven students.

  • Native American poetry books (see attached list)
  • Sentence strips with poetry words and definitions (see Critical Vocabulary)
  • One selected poem from a North Carolina Native American poet copied on chart paper
  • Rubric for week
  • Venn Diagram Graphic Organizer
  • North Carolina Native American craft items (pottery, beaded work), remarkable objects from nature, and photographs of North Carolina Native Americans
  • Other non-poetry books about Native Americans, including non-fiction books, alphabet books, legends, and historical fiction
  • Watercolor or poster paints
  • Paper, pencils, pens, and markers
  • CDs of Native American music

Technology resources

CD player to play Native American music during poetry workshop.

Pre-activities

  • Students should be familiar with poetry as a genre and with certain vocabulary related to poetry (see Critical Vocabulary).
  • Students should know how to use a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast.
  • Students should have some background knowledge of the Native American tribes of North Carolina and some of their customs and ways of life.
  • Teacher needs to select and copy onto chart paper one poem written by a North Carolina Native American poet.

Activities

Day 1

Introduction to Native American poetry workshop

Materials needed:

  • Native American poetry books
  • sentence strips with poetry words and definitions
  • chart paper with one selected poem from a North Carolina Native American poet
  • CD player and Native American music
  1. Introduce the idea of a Native American poetry workshop through brief discussion guided by the following questions:
    • What resources have students used to learn about history and Native Americans? Which types of books/movies have they read about Native Americans?
    • Have students ever read any poems written by Native Americans?
    • How could poetry helps us learn about Native Americans?
    • What types of themes might we expect to read in Native American poetry?
  2. Review the genre and vocabulary of poetry (See Pre-activities). This could be done through discussion or done with a simple vocabulary–definition matching game. Vocabulary words are written on one sentence strip, and definitions or kid-friendly explanations are written on another strip. Each student receives a sentence strip face down on his or her desk. When all strips have been passed out, students walk about the room looking for their vocabulary–definition match. The activity wraps up with each student pair reading out their vocabulary word and definition.
  3. Share the North Carolina Native American poem that was copied on chart paper, and model a think-aloud about the poem. The think-aloud about your poem will give students ideas of how to analyze and think about the poetry. Use the poetry vocabulary during this think aloud. Elicit students’ responses to the poem as well. For example, you might talk to them about:
    • why you selected the poem
    • what you noticed about the title or author’s name
    • from which tribe and location the poem or author came
    • how you felt when you read the poem
    • if there were any confusing lines in the poem
    • how you figured out what the poem was about
    • if you were reminded of other poems or experiences
    • what you could infer about Native American from the poem
  4. Allow for students to explore and read the Native American poetry books independently or with a buddy. Play Native American music in the background. This is meant to whet their appetite, so that they may get excited about the days to come.
  5. Wrap up by sharing any observations that students have about Native American poetry so far.

Day 2

Introduction to centers

(This may be a long day or could be split into two days.)
Materials needed:

  • chart paper with one selected poem from a North Carolina Native American poet, from the previous day
  • sentence strips with poetry words and definitions
  • CD player with Native American music
  • materials for each center, listed below
  1. Reread the shared poem, inviting students to chime in with you when possible.
  2. Review poetry vocabulary by asking questions about the shared poem with the vocabulary words. Hold up the sentence strip with the vocabulary word as you ask the questions.
  3. Introduce the poetry workshop rubric and model each center activity. Model in detail how to complete each center activity successfully. Use the poetry project rubric to clearly state your expectations for each center activity.
Center 1: Compare and contrast Native American poetry

Materials needed:

  • Native American poetry books
  • Venn Diagram Graphic Organizer
  • sentence strips with poetry words and definitions
  • chart paper with the shared North Carolina Native American poem

Students will compare and contrast the shared North Carolina American Indian poem with another poem written by a Native American using the Venn diagram. Students will:

  1. Browse the poetry books. Select a favorite poem.
  2. Write the title of the poem, the poet, and his or her tribe affiliation and location on the Venn diagram.
  3. Write at least three differences between the poems on each of the outer circles of the Venn diagram.
  4. Write at least three similarities between the poems on the shared inner circle.
  5. Use at least three poetry vocabulary words in the Venn diagram.
Center 2: Painting pottery

Materials needed:

  • Native American poetry books
  • watercolor or poster paints
  • good white paper

Students will create a painting which illustrates the mood, theme, or images of a poem written by a Native American.

  1. Browse the poetry books. Select a favorite poem.
  2. Think and/or talk about the mood, theme, or images in your poem.
  3. Write the title of the poem, the poet, and his or her tribe affiliation and location on the corner of the white paper.
  4. Use watercolors or poster paints to illustrate the mood, theme, or images in your poem.
  5. On an index card, write a short summary of how your painting illustrates the mood, theme, or images of the poem. Students may use the following sentence frame: “I chose to paint this poem because… My painting illustrates the mood (or theme or images) of the poem because…”
Center 3: Inspiration poem

Materials needed:

  • North Carolina Native American craft items (pottery, beaded work), remarkable objects from nature, photographs of North Carolina Native Americans
  • paper, pencils, pens, markers

Students will compose an original poem inspired by an object related to a North Carolina Native American group.

  1. Look at the collection of objects at this table. Talk with your group about ideas inspired by each of the objects.
  2. Pick one object that inspires you to write a poem. More than one person can choose the same object.
  3. Write a creative poem about the object. Use your best spelling and creative words.
  4. Select a title for the poem.
  5. Illustrate your poem.
Center 4: Found poems

Materials needed:

  • Other non-poetry books about Native Americans, including non-fiction books, alphabet books, legends, historical fiction
  • paper, pencils, pens, markers

Students will compose a “found” poem using words and phrases from books about Native Americans. These are non-poetry books about Native Americans, including non-fiction books, alphabet books, legends, historical fiction.

  1. Browse through the books about Native Americans on this table.
  2. Copy words or phrases that you like onto a piece of paper.
  3. Arrange the words or phrases so that they sound like a poem.
  4. Select a title for your poem.
  5. Illustrate your poem.

After modeling the activity for each center, divide students into four working groups. Each group completes one activity per day. Remember to play Native American music in the background.

Days 3–5

Rotate through centers

  1. Introduce each day by sharing the previous day’s activity. Students may share their poem/painting/ or response with a buddy, or selected students may share their work with the entire class.
  2. Each day, review the poetry vocabulary.
  3. Each day, review routines and expectations of center activities.

Assessment

The attached rubric addresses the learning objectives for each of the center activities. Unless students are very experienced at using rubrics for their work, the teacher will need to meet one-on-one or in small groups to guide students in filling out this rubric. An alternative would be to take five minutes at the end of each day to have students reflect upon their success with their center activity for the day. That way, the rubric would be filled out day by day.

Supplemental information

Modifications

  • Make a recording of one or two poetry books, and allow students to use head phones to listen to the poems while they read.
  • Select several shorter poems with easier vocabulary. Make copies of these poems for students who are just learning English or at lower reading levels. As other students are independently working in centers, the teacher can read and discuss these poems with the select group. For Centers 1 and 2, students can select their poems from this more limited group of poems.
  • Provide a word bank for the Inspiration Poetry Center. This could include several lists of words to help students write their poems. For example, a list of adjectives, a list of feeling words, and a list of Native American content words related to the objects.
  • Pair Novice English Language Learners with bilingual students. For both the Inspiration and Found Poem Centers, the pair could produce bilingual poems. The novice student could write the Spanish version, while the more proficient English Language Learner could write the English version.
  • Simplify the Venn Diagram graphic organizer and adjust the rubric accordingly.
  • Extension: Write a compare/contrast paragraph using the information on the Venn Diagram.
  • Extension: Students choose a poem to perform orally. This could be one of the poems they wrote, or one they selected from the poetry book. Students memorize and practice a dramatic performance of the poem, and then present to the class.

Critical vocabulary

  • anonymous — nobody knows who wrote this poem
  • genre — a type of writing, like fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama
  • imagery — the pictures that you get in your head when you read the poet’s words
  • metaphor — comparison between two things that does not use like or as
  • mood — feeling that reader gets after reading the poem
  • poet — a person who writes poem
  • poem — writing in verse that describes something in an imaginative way; uses precise language, with rhythm and sometimes rhyme
  • point of view — the perspective from which the poem is told
  • rhyme — bat, cat, hat; when the end part of a word is the same. It makes poems sound snappy.
  • rhythm — when words are put together so that it sounds like they have a beat, like a drum, or it makes you want to tap your fingers or toes
  • stanzas — group of lines in poem, like a paragraph for a poem
  • simile — comparison between two things using like or as
  • theme — central message of the poem
  • Venn diagram — a picture of two circles which helps show how things are alike and different

Comments

Poetry is an often-underused genre, which can help students comprehend the history and culture of American Indians. This week-long set of lessons uses four different center activities to help students respond to poetry written by American Indians, and to create their own poetry that relates to Native Americans. This lesson plan was written with ESL (English as a Second Language) students in mind, so there are many opportunities to practice vocabulary, discuss and talk with others, and model expectations.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Reading: Literature

        • Grade 4
          • 4.RL.5 Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking...
          • 4.RL.9 Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • 4.C.1 Understand the impact of various cultural groups on North Carolina. 4.C.1.1 Explain how the settlement of people from various cultures affected the development of regions in North Carolina (languages, foods and traditions). 4.C.1.2 Explain how the artistic...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 4

  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections with text through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.01: Respond to fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama using interpretive, critical, and evaluative processes by:
      • analyzing the impact of authors' word choice and context.
      • examining the reasons for characters' actions.
      • identifying and examining characters' motives.
      • considering a situation or problem from different characters' points of view.
      • analyzing differences among genres.
      • making inferences and drawing conclusions about characters, events and themes.
  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.07: Compose fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama using self-selected and assigned topics and forms (e.g., personal and imaginative narratives, research reports, diaries, journals, logs, rules, instructions).

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 4

  • Goal 2: The learner will examine the importance of the role of ethnic groups and examine the multiple roles they have played in the development of North Carolina.
    • Objective 2.01: Locate and describe American Indians in North Carolina, past and present.