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Discovering (I)dentity in Poetry

Four-week poetry unit for 9th and 10th graders

Grade Break Down

Participation: 20%
Poems (3) with 1 being your final performance poem: 20%
Performance: 20%
Performance or Digital Made Thing or Made Thing: 20%
Quick writes: 10%
Quizzes: 5%
Journal: 5%

Overview: This lesson focuses on the students becoming agents of their

own identities through poetry. The students will look become ethnographic
researchers of themselves and tell their own stories of culture, immigration,
legacy and identity through poetry. Students will become agents of change
by challenging and rewriting their own narratives in which they may have
been excluded from. First, students will explore poetic conventions through
close reading, discussion, and imitation of a variety of poets from various
cultural, social, religious, and sexual backgrounds. Once students understand
the framework of poetry they will begin creating their own poems. The class
will also explore the many ways poetry is performed. My hope is that through
this process they gain self confidence in THEIR culture, stories, and
identities. As well as gain respect and understanding for their classmates.
The unit will end with the students creating a performance of their poetry,
and a formal essay discussing the process of creating and producing poetry.

Reading: What kinds of reading do you want students to be able to do? What texts will
you use? What is your rationale for choosing these texts? Are you including a variety of
genres and forms?

I want my students to to be able to close read poetry in such a way

they can articulate what the text means to them. I am not asking them
what is this suppose to mean? This question implies there is a right
answer, it prevents students from wanting to actually discuss the text.
I believe it is better to ask what does this mean to you? I want my
students to be confident readers. I want them to be able to identify
creative devices, and formulate in depth questions about what they
read. I also feel choice is an important aspect of their reading, so I
want them to have a choice in what they read.

My unit consists of one genre, but within that genre I have picked a
diverse group of authors to represent different identities, stories, and
cultural backgrounds. My texts in this unit include poems from:

o Sean Hill Blood Ties and Brown Liquor

o Chris Abani and Perecival Everett There Are No Names For


o Ada Limon Sharks in the Rivers

o Rigoberto Gonzales So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water

until it Breaks

o Ocean Vuong Night Sky with Exit Wounds

o Mari LEsperance The Darkened Temple

o Natalie Diaz When My Brother Was An Aztec

o David Lees Porcine Canticles

My lesson is based on identity and the student taking ahold of who

they are by reading, analyzing and creating poems in which represent
their own stories. These stories are rooted in their culture, immigration,
and legacy. I want the students to explore their self identities, and
through this process gain acceptance for their classmates diverse
identities. This is why I chose many diverse texts that are all rooted in
identity. Immigration, culture, hardship, loss, haunting, and ethnicity
are also aspects of these books. I plan on introducing the students to a
few poems in each book, instead of reading one or two whole books.
The rationale is that our identities are so complex and distinct that
exploring all these authors will hopefully help them relate to authors
they didnt think they would have. Hopefully gaining understanding for
others. And if possible maybe relate to authors or classmates that
surprise them. Each author has their own poetic style and I want the
students to see, hear, and feel this.

I am not including a variety of genres in my unit, but I do include a

variety of forms that poetry has to offer.


(CCSS.ELA-Reading.9-10.2) Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze
in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and
is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
(CCSS.ELA-Reading.9-10.4) Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they
are used in the text,
including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of
specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense
of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
(CCSS.ELA-Reading.9-10.5) Analyze how an authors choices concerning how to
structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time
(e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.
(CCSS.ELA-Reading.9-10.6) Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience
reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide
reading of world literature
(CCSS.ELA-Reading.9-10.10) By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend
literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 910
text complexity band independently and proficiently

Writing: What kinds of writing will students do? Will there be both informal
and formal writing and why have you chose these genres?

The students will compose a variety of informal writings. Many quick

writes during the course of this unit will be assigned. The quick write
prompts will help students with topic inspiration for poems they will
writing. I also will be providing the students with poetry journals to
write lines down, doodle, or just get their thoughts in order. I will ask
the students to write three poems, we will work on peer revision and
ideas for these works, and then they will pick one to be performed at
the end of the unit. A reflective response will be due along with the
poem performance. This response will reflect on the process of creating
and performing poetry. I decided on quick writes because it gives
students time to sort out their own thoughts, and then come back as a
whole for discussion. Journals are an important way to write things that
you arent ready to share, which happens frequently in poetry. Poetry is
the genre that begs people to listen. I think it is a healthy, creative way
to flesh out feelings and ideologies. Revision of poetry is just as
important as essay revision. It helps your work grow, and blossom. I
want the students to reflect on the process of this unit, I feel reflection
is a time to see how much growth has happened, I also feel its
beneficial for me to receive a reflection from the students. Reflections
from the students can allow me to see what is working in the lesson
and what needs to be thrown out.

(CCSS.ELA-Writing.9-10.3) Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences

or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event
(CCSS.ELA-Writing.9-10.5) Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning,
revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is
most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
(CCSS.ELA-Writing.9-10.6) Use technology, including the Internet, to produce,
publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of
technologys capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly
and dynamically.
(CCSS.ELA-Writing.9-10.10) Write routinely over extended time frames (time for
research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single day or two) for
a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Language: What aspects of language will you teach? How do the reading
and writing choices in your unit support students learning of language?

My lesson attributes to the students knowledge of how language

functions within poetry. On the first day of my unit I will introduce the
class to poetry vocabulary. In order to understand how poets work
there are terms that the students will need to know and recognize. In
this unit we will be using Socratic discussion methods. This will
enhance students speaking and listening skills. I think discussion is
important to collaborate ideas, formulate new ideas, and bring
understanding. The students will perform one poem they wrote during
the unit. I will give the students examples of ways poetry is performed.
They will need to digital make their performance including with music,
videos, sung, danced, or rapped. Which enhance their understanding
of language mixed with digital media.

My reading selection for the unit is multicultural. I think this will convey
to the students how diversity plays a role in how language is used,
spoken, and performed. I think writing poetry will convey to the
students that writing and spoken language are so closely intermingled
that often times its hard to distinguish between the two. I also think
writing poetry will aid the students knowledge of language in context
of grammar, style, word meaning, and listening.

(CCSS.ELA-Speaking and Listening.9-10.1) Initiate and participate effectively in a

range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with
diverse partners on grades 910 topics, texts, and issues, building on others ideas
and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
(CCSS.ELA-Speaking and Listening.9-10.5) Make strategic use of digital media (e.g.,
textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to
enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
(CCSS.ELA-Language.9-10.1) Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard
English grammar and usage when writing or speaking
(CCSS.ELA-Language.9-10.3) Apply knowledge of language to understand how
language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or
style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
(CCSS.ELA-Language.9-10.5) Demonstrate understanding of figurative language,
word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
(CCSS.ELA-Language.9-10.6) Acquire and use accurately general academic and
domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and
listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in
gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to
comprehension or expression

What will you do as the teacher during this unit? Describe the activities you
will lead in detail, including your objectives for the activity.

In this unit I will be teaching the students how to look at engage with
poetry so they can effectively identify language conventions. I will be
guiding the students in Socratic discussions so we can have
meaningful discussion about the poetry in this unit. I will use social
constructivism and cognitive constructivism methodologies in my day
to day lesson plans. Social constructivism allows students to learn in
group settings, while cognitive constructivism will be knowledge the
students build alone. In doing this I hope the students come away from
this lesson with an understand of their own identities as well as an
understanding for other students. In the academic area I want students
at the end of this unit to be able to effective engage with poetry,
meaning they can convey themes, discover forms, find literary
conventions such as alliteration, metaphors etc. I also would love for
them to be inspired to write and read more poetry.

The students will begin each day with a minute journal entry, this is
about as informal as it gets. This entry is not something they have to
show anyone, it can be a line they like, something they saw, a doodle,
or even a scribble. The only rule is that the pencils are moving.

Reading poems every day, and then doing quick writes, discussing in
groups, then coming together as a class to discuss the poem.

Writing Activities:

(The objectives for the writing activities are to inspire poems ideas
that get down to their identity in original ways. For the classroom to
get to know each other, get comfortable, have discussions that they
normally wouldnt have with each other, to write about topics they
normally wouldnt think to write about.)

The Neighborhood Spot

Brainstorm spots in your neighborhood that you always remember or
that holds significance to youpick one
Make a list of what you specifics about this spotbrainstorm a specific
memory at this spot, whose there, what does it smell like, are you
eating or drinking anything, whats the weather like, what are you and
who are with wearing I want all the details dont leave anything out
Alternative draw the spot; sometimes the act of draw jumpstarts our
memory allowing us to remember things we couldnt write

What My Childhood Tasted Like

Consider a food of your childhood, or currently this doesnt have to be
a food you like it can be attached to a food you dislike as well
Write down anything that comes to mind but be detailed with your
answers for example: The Swanns push-pops I would eat at my
grandmas in the summer (Be that detailed)
If this activity prompts so good ideas try and write a poem

My Favorite Words
I love words, poets love words, they are powerful and interesting in
this activity brainstorm some of your favorite words (school
appropriate words) Examples: caveat, boomerang, buoyant,
recalcitrance, canvas, innovation, trauma, phlegm. Look to the poetry
books if you need to, poets have great vocabularies.
Share your words in your groups, and pick one word.
Homework: Research the word using these websites
Answer the questions: Why do you think you like this word so much?
What is the words etymology? When and where was it born? How has
it evolved?

Sometimes You Can Judge Book by Its Cover

We can learn a lot about others by observing them, like we are noticing
and considering these poems. Explore this idea and complete the
following sentence with more than one item: Explain how your ______
reveals who you are. Examples: cell phone, backpack, makeup,
skateboard, shoes, starbucks selection, video games
Then explain what these items reveal about you
Class discussion, compare and contrast
Almost all of you have a Facebook/Instagram page (If they do not have
any pages they can imagine what it would be like to build them). You
post videos, chat with friends, note different events that happen in
your day to day, comment on other peoples pages etc. Write about
your Facebook, or Instagram page with these questions in mind:
How much do you spend on this page?
What photographs have you chosen to be on there? Why?
What do you write on your page?
Anything you think that would surprise readers?
What have you left off? Why?
Who has access to your page? Who doesnt? Why?
What does it say about you?

Black Sheep
We all know a black sheep which by definition is a person who causes
shame or embarrassment because of deviation from the accepted
standards of his or her group. Consider a black sheep you have
encountered, or a time have you felt like the black sheep. (Be careful
this is a sensitive subject)
Class discussion, I tell the class this is a sensitive topic and we need to
treat it with care, I ask if there is anyone that hasnt written anything
first and then go into others stories ONLY if they are willing to share

My _____ History
Consider your various histories of your life or the lives of your
Examples: soccer, family, music, drawing, travel, school etc.
Homework: bring a visual representation to class

You Should Know

Students drowned in a celebrity culture need to know that average
people are interesting as well. For example, Ron Milner a principal was
a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, having won the purple heart.
I want my students recognize they dont need to watch TV to see
interesting people. Intriguing people are all around us. Find an
average person with an above average story. Your grandmother that
faced coming to America, the person next to you has an interesting
story, talk to each other. Bring your results next class.

Gallagher, Kelly. Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through
Modeling and Mentor Texts. N.p.: Stenhouse, 2011. Print.

What will students do during this unit? How will you support them? What will
a day in the classroom look like during this unit?

Students will be doing learning poetry vocabulary, learning different

forms of poetry, learning about how poetry can be performed,
discussing poems, close reading poems, picking out literary
conventions that the poets use in their works, brainstorming prompts,
writing quick writes, keeping a poetry journal, writing poems, and
ending the class with a performed poem.

I will be their guide the whole way through this unit. I will be there to
guide to facilitate them in this process of building their knowledge of
poetry, as well has enhancing the poetry they are producing. I will be
to aid students when they are struggling. I believe I have set the unit
up in such a way that the students will be experiencing a diverse
atmosphere, and with new experiences come growth and self

What is your timeline for conducting this unit? Include a calendar.

A four-week unit for 9th and/or 10th graders

What will you do to determine if your goals have been met? What will
students do/say/write that will show you whether they have reached your
I plan to access the students knowledge on vocabulary by quizzing
them throughout the unit. I made participation a large part of the
grade for this unit because I will be accessing the students by their in
class discussions. The students poems will be accessed by the revision
process. It will be mandatory that the students turn in all drafts of their
poems so I can see if they actually revised their work. The students
performances will be meet they goal by making the thing. I am also
having the students write a formal reflection about the unit, this will
help me access the unit itself.
Participation in discussion, Quizzes, Quick writes, Poems,
Performance, and Reflection

What have you learned from creating this lesson unit? What excites you
about the unit? What questions or concerns about it remain?

I have always wanted to be a teacher, and have created

lesson plans before, but they were for one hour classes three
days a week so this type of unit takes in depth planning,
time, and structure. I loved creating the lesson, and have
learned how much sophistication goes into planning units. I
learned that it is very difficult to plan for every child in the
class. What applies to one kid is not going to apply to
another, which is difficult to pan for. It is also hard to plan for
the unknown. I dont know if my activities will work or if they
will just stare at me blankly that nerve racking.
So many things excite me about my unit! I love poetry, I am
so passionate about it that I hope that would show, and my
students would become passionate too. I love the identity
them of my lesson, and asking the students to be agents
over their own stories through poetry like some of my
favorite poets are. It excited me to share in this experience
with my students. English is a special subject for the mere
fact that it takes you places, it has the ability to transport
you, t put you in some one elses shoes, to make you gain
understanding of another human, and I think poetry does
that with an immediacy that no other genre of literacy does
as quickly.
I have so many concerns!!! Would this lesson ever work? Is
four weeks too long? Too short? Will they hate all the
activities, and the idea of the unit? Will they stare at me
blankly when we have discussion? This worries me, because
my lessons foundation to self discovery is discussion and
what if they dont feel comfortable to talk about the issues
that lead to self reflection and identity? So much worries me.