Monday 2 June 2014

Hope is the Thing with Feathers

Description: This proposal is organized around the theme of hope through the use of Emily Dickinson’s poem Hope is the Thing with Feathers. The Visible Thinking routine used is Creative Questions.  

Level: Intermediate
Learners: 11+
Theme: Hope
Language: Hope related vocabulary, expressing hope about the present and future
Skills: Parts of the speech identification, identifying and making metaphors, writing questions, familiarizing with poetic language, exploring creatively the theme of hope
Materials: Short video, visual prompts

Step 1
Show your students the tagxedo of the poem and ask them to guess what the poem is about.  Keep a visible record of students’ guesses.

Step 2
Organize your students in groups and ask them to classify as many words as they can in 3 categories: nouns/adjectives/verbs. Go around the class and help with vocabulary if needed or advise students to look up the unknown words in the dictionary. Allow 15 minutes and get feedback.
Note: sore (very great or severe) abash (make ashamed, embarrassed, or self-conscious) perch (rest on a perch)

(Alternatively you can hand out the black and white version of the tagxedo)

Step 3
Show the wordle of the title. Tell your students that there are three words missing. Ask them to guess which are the missing words and write what they think the title of the poem is. Allow 5 minutes and get feedback.

Step 4
Reveal the title of the poem. Explain that it’s a 19th century poem written by Emily Dickinson, a famous American poet. 

Step 5
Tell students that they're going to watch a video of the poem which is an example of kinetic poetry. They should try to reproduce the poem by memory. Show the video once. Ask them to write down as much of the poem as they can remember. Show for a second or third time. Allow time for the students to write the complete poem and get feedback. 

Step 6
Ask students to find the rhyming words in the poem (soul-all/heard-bird, storm-warm/sea-me/extremity-sea-me). Explain the use of dashes (pauses and breaks). Read out the poem to them once. Then, have some students who feel confident enough read it aloud. Ask them if there are any points they still can’t understand and if they like the poem.

Step 7
Ask what they think the basic metaphor of the poem is (hope-bird) and if they can find any other metaphors (gale/storm-life’s hardships). Write on the board: Hope is … and brainstorm other metaphors for hope. 

You can have an idea of how my students responded to this step, here.  

Step 8
Write on the board: financial crisis/world peace/our planet’s future/my family. Pair your students and ask them to write what they hope about each theme beginning with the phrase: I hope + present/can. Allow 5 minutes and get feedback. 

Step 9
Show the 3 quotes on hope. Ask students to talk about which one they like most and why.

Martin Luther King

Then, show the nixed media on canvas works of art and ask them which phrases in each one best express their hope attitudes.

Rebecca Vavic

Rebecca Vavic

Rebecca Vavic

Rebecca Vavic
Step 10
Put your students in groups and tell them to discuss and write what they think the people in each photo hope. Allow a few minutes for each photo and then show the next.  

Step 11
Work as a whole class and brainstorm a list of questions about the theme of hope. Ask students to choose one of the questions, and imaginatively explore it. They can do this by writing a story, a poem, drawing a picture, creating a collage. At the end of the activity ask your students: What new ideas do you have about the theme of hope that you didn’t have before? 

You can have a look at how my students responded to the Creative Questions routine, here

I hope you find this proposal worth experimenting. 

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