Exploring Change Through Poetry
Using the poem "Change," by Charlotte Zolotow, students discuss the concept of change while learning basic elements of poety.
- Grades: 6–8
- Unit Plan:
Introduce students to the many elements of poetry. Spark a discussion about change and growth using the questions below.
- Understand and appreciate poetry.
- Understand the following literary terms: form, stanza, lines, free verse.
- Demonstrate the ability to make connections between a text read independently and his or her prior knowledge, other texts, and the world.
- Demonstrate the ability to draw conclusions and make inferences.
- Demonstrate the ability to express and explain ideas orally with fluency and confidence.
Step 1: Ask students to think about a favorite poem or a favorite song they have recently read or heard. Have them describe what makes that poem or song memorable.
Step 2: Introduce the poetic term form by asking the students if they have ever noticed the shape of a poem? The way a poem looks, the arrangement of the words on a page, is form.
Step 3: Tell students that poems are made up of lines, which may or may not be sentences. Explain to the students that when lines are arranged in groups, each group is called a stanza.
Step 4: Explain to students that a poem's form can help you understand its meanings. Some poems have a formal structure while others sound more like conversation: these are called free verse.
Step 5: Have students read an excerpt from "Change." Allow them to discuss the form with a partner referring to the numbers of lines and stanzas.
Step 6: Have students read the entire poem.
Step 7: Distribute the Poetry Evaluation Questions (PDF) and have each student evaluate the poem.
Step 8: Read the poem aloud and have students share their response to the questions. Pose these additional questions to facilitate further discussion:
- Are the seasons seen as things that change or things that stay the same?
- Does the speaker feel that life has changed?
- How do you know?
Step 9: Continue discussion by asking students, "What is change? What types of things change? Does change promote growth? If so, how? If not, why?
Supporting All Learners
Provide a hard copy and project the poem on a board with a transparency or projector screen. Allow students time to read the poem multiple times on their own silently and out loud. Read it with the class out loud.
Home Connection: Invite students to ask their parents the following questions: How important do you think it is to belong? Do you think it is better to "go with the flow" or to make your presence known?
How have you changed this school year? Think about how you were when you first entered this classroom and think about how you are now.
Respond to the following quotation: "You start out with one thing, end up with another and nothing's like it used to be, not even the future." Quote from "The Yellow House on the Corner" by Rita Dove, an American poet.
Students will complete a graphic organizer on the following topic: Think about a change in your life. How did it help you grow?
Discuss different forms with students: limerick, sonnet, haiku, etc.