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Fifth Grade - Literature - Overview - September
 

There are eight literature lessons this month, three devoted to sayings and phrases, and five devoted to poetry. The aim in Fifth Grade is to expose students to a variety a writing styles and themes. This unit tries to strike a balance between analyzing the pieces studied and being entertained by them. You are invited to offer your students every opportunity to deepen their understanding of how literature works. Therefore, the literary devices studied in this unit (alliteration and onomatopoeia) should not be seen in isolation but as tools by which an author communicates with readers. You should encourage your students to respond personally to literature. A Reading Response Journal may help them do so. You may advise them to mark off a page or set aside an exercise book for that purpose. Although this is not always indicated in these lessons, you may request that students record their thoughts and feelings about the pieces they study in class in their Reading Response Journal as this is an excellent way for students to reflect on literature.
 

Fifth Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - A miss is as good as a mile
 

Objectives

Recognize what makes this a time-honored saying: brief, melodious, meaningful.

Understand this saying when used.

Use this saying appropriately.
 

Materials

Text of the saying A miss is as good as a mile, to be displayed on board
 

Suggested Books

Teacher Reference

Hirsch, E. D. What Your 5th Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1993.
 

Teacher Background

Consider this lesson not only an introduction to the sayings component but also to the study of all literature in Fifth Grade. Students may already be familiar with the sayings that they study this year. They may have learned them from school or home. You should acknowledge this possibility. The focus in Fifth Grade is on understanding how, why, and when we use sayings in general, and the sayings included here in particular. You may choose to display the texts of the sayings in the classroom during the school year.

Sayings and phrases, like poetry, folk tales, and song can be considered oral literature. As such, a certain economy of expression or intending as much as possible in as few words as possible, melodiousness, function or the ability to make sense in the real world, and memorability are very important in studying them.

Consonants are speech sounds produced by some degree of obstruction of the air expelled from the lungs. Vowels are speech sounds produced without obstruction of the air expelled from the lungs. Their sounds vary as a result, vowels generally being considered more melodious than consonants. The properties of the sounds of this saying will be used to explain some of the saying's wide use. Feel free to apply your own approaches to the study of these literary pieces.
 

Procedure

By way of introduction to this year's literature studies, tell students that in literature in Fifth Grade, we will aim for two things. First, to enjoy reading, and listening to sayings, poems, stories, and plays. Second, to look closely at the language of literature: at how the writer uses words, phrases, sentences, ideas. The purpose is to enjoy reading and to enjoy writing as well and to see their interconnection, and benefit from it.

Tell students that some sayings have been around for hundreds of years yet are still in use today. Tell students that they are going to study a saying that many of them might not have heard before. Establish the following procedure with your students. First, ask them to listen to the saying while you or other students read it. Next, ask them to consider the following question: Why has this saying been used over time? The answers to this question will describe the characteristics that keep sayings alive across generations of speakers. You may tell students that

by the end of the lesson, they will know when to you use this saying and will create a new situation in which the saying is used correctly.

Next, present the saying, A miss is as good as a mile orally or in writing, on the board or on chart paper. It is all right if the saying has been displayed before the lesson. Check whether any student has heard this saying before. Call on individual students to repeat the saying if this will help them focus on the sounds. You may start with those students who had heard it before.

Ask students whether they like the sound of the saying or pose some other question that focuses students' attention on the sounds in the saying. Have students repeat the saying, if necessary, and listen to its sounds. To help students focus on the sound of the saying, you may advise them that at this point in time, they should not concentrate on what the saying may or may not mean, but listen only to how the saying sounds. You may ask them to pretend that it was music they were listening to or that they were declaiming a line in a play. They may toy around with it and mimic different voices of television or movie personalities, placing emphasis on different words.

Next, ask students to explain why might some people like the sound of the saying, or ask what about its sounds some people might enjoy? The intention here is to get students to express their personal responses to the sound of the saying. Encourage them in doing so, explaining that this exercise is about tastes. You may wish to add to their answers, or emphasize this if they have observed it for themselves: some people may like the succession of vowel sounds and soft "s" sounds in the saying, A miss is as good as a mile.

Next, explain that vowel sounds and soft "s" sounds are often soothing to the ear. For a demonstration, you may contrast a vowel sound and a consonant sound (such as "z" which is not present in the saying) are not always gentle to the ears.

Call on some students to repeat the saying. Draw their attention to the fact that they remember the saying at all. Ask the students to explain why it's so easy to remember this saying. Allow students to attempt answers, guiding their responses with such clues as these: Had the saying been much wordier would you have remembered it as quickly? Had the saying been less melodious (musical), would you have remembered it as easily? Stress the following points: The saying is brief. The saying sounds melodious. Summarize by telling students that by being brief and melodious sayings may be easily remembered and used.

Next, direct students toward the study of meaning in this saying. Call on students to explain what this saying, A miss is as good as a mile means. Ask, if necessary: As used in this saying, what does "miss" mean? What does "mile" mean in the saying? You may prompt students by asking them to suggest the things someone can miss. (a bus, a shot in basketball)

You may draw attention to the fact that the saying A miss is as good as a mile takes the form of a comparison. Ask students for the two things being compared in the saying. ("miss" and "mile") Ask: What does the saying suggest that "miss" and "mile" have in common? (They are as good as each other.) Seek students' opinions on whether a "miss" and a "mile" are equally good? Emphasize the fact that this is exactly what the saying seems to suggest: that just missing by a little bit is no better than missing by a whole lot.

If students are unfamiliar with the saying, you may wish to read the following passage as an example. You may provide the questions before a first reading of the passage. You may read the passage a second and a third time, if necessary. The passage is as follows.

 
"Well, at least you only lost by one point," Camilla said to her brother, Sean, the quarterback on his school's team.

"I know you're trying to make me feel better, Camilla," Sean replied, "but we still lost. Like they say, a miss is as good as a mile."

Ask: Who quoted the saying? (Sean) What had he missed? (winning a football match)
How was he feeling that he had missed? (disappointed, upset)
From What your Fifth Grader Needs To Know.

Ask students to discuss the meaning of this saying, using questions such as these: Is it always true that a miss is as good, or as bad, as a mile? Are just missing the bus by a little bit, missing an A on a class test, and missing a game-winning shot in basketball all the same miss? Why? (accept reasonable answers)
 

Additional Activities

Assign students to do any of the following activities. The intention is to provide a situation that calls for the correct use of the saying, A miss is as good as a mile. Draw up a cartoon strip. Or, write a paragraph, or a dialogue, or a story. The very last words of any of these activities should be A miss is as good as a mile. You may wish to offer the following guidelines. There must be two characters. Someone must miss something by a little bit and be feeling in a particular way.

You may also ask students to recall from conversations, books, or movies situations in which the saying A miss is as good as a mile was used or in which it could have been used. You may also seek out versions of this saying in English or other cultures. Students may also have fun finding sayings that seem to suggest the opposite of what this saying means.

You may even ask students to use their own creativity and come up with their own version of this saying, something to the same effect.
 

Fifth Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - Well begun is half done
 

Objectives

Recognize the characteristics of the saying: brief, rhythm, rhyme.

Understand this saying when used.

Use this saying appropriately.
 

Materials

Text of the saying, Well begun is half done to be displayed on board
 

Suggested Books

Teacher Reference

Hirsch, E. D. What Your 5th Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1993.
 

Teacher Background

The focus in this lesson continues to be on the uses writers and speakers make of sayings, and on the literary characteristics of the sayings themselves. As oral literature, sayings are however, constantly functional, in that they relate to real life situations on which they throw some light, or about which they express a truism. From a literary point of view, they are always memorable for one reason or another. The saying Well begun is half done, has a clear message about working and working well from the start. This meaning can be seen within a universal context or probably traced back to a particular culture and its work ethic. You are free to explore that angle. I find, personally, that this saying achieves its memorability through its internal rhyme ("-gun"/"done"), its brief nature, and its marching rhythm. This lesson goes in that direction. You may choose to display the texts in the classroom during the school year.
 

Procedure

Tell students that they are going to study another saying. Tell them that by the end of the lesson they will recognize its characteristics and understand the situations in which this saying can be used. Finally, they will each create a new situation in which to use the saying.

Present the saying Well begun is half done orally or in writing, on the board or on chart paper. Check whether any of your students has heard this saying before. Then, call on individual students to repeat the saying. You may start with those students who have heard it before.

Next, remind students that when they studied the saying A miss is as good as a mile in Lesson 1, they found that saying to have these two characteristics. It was brief and it was melodious, that is, it had a certain music to it, on account of the repeated consonant sound "s" and the succession of vowel sounds. Remind students that being brief and musical were just two characteristics out of many that help people remember sayings. Inform students that there are other possible characteristics of literature, and we read books, or watch movies, plays, etc. in the hope of enjoying those characteristics.

Ask students to repeat the saying Well begun is half done, paying attention to its sounds. You may let them know that there are really no right or wrong answers to this question, but only unsubstantiated answers and reasonable ones. Tell them it is a matter of taste and that mature readers do this all the time, making judgement calls about whether something is worth watching or reading. Ask: Is the saying Well begun is half done brief? (It is.) To get students to come up with their own thoughts on the question, ask what they thought of the sounds in the saying? You may ask students whether any of the sounds were the same? ("-gun" and "done") Ask: What is the word that describes a sound that is repeated? (rhyme) Remind them that this word is often used to describe the final sounds in lines of poems but that it could be applied to sounds such as "-gun" and "done" which appear within a line. Ask: Do you sense any rhythm in the saying? Are there words you want to read together? ("Well begun" and "is half done.") Is there any syllable we would need to stress (pronounce more forcefully) than the other? Which? ("-gun" and "done." Ask: Do you mark a pause when saying Well begun is half done? Where do you mark the pause? (After "begun") Into how many parts does this pause break up the saying? (Two)

Present the saying in writing on the board or on chart paper in the following format:

Well begun
is half done.

Call on the students to read the saying in this format.

Emphasize to the students that there is almost a marching rhythm to the saying, that is, one can drum to that rhythm. Emphasize that the end of each of the two parts of the saying "-gun" and "done" rhyme. Call on some students to repeat the saying and draw their attention to the fact that it is easier to memorize words that are brief, set up a rhythm, and rhyme.

To get students to respond to the meaning of the saying, ask them to explain what this saying, Well begun is half done means? Ask: What are the key words in this saying? ("begun," and "done") What do these words mean? Are they similar? Are they opposites? (yes) If necessary, offer the following scenario. Peter has begun his math homework, but right from the start, he is not following the necessary instructions. Paul has begun the same math homework and is obeying instructions. Who will finish the assignment sooner? Why? (Accept reasonable answers.) Is Paul exactly half done, however? (You may allow discussion.)

If students are unfamiliar with the saying,Well begun is half done, you may wish to read the following passage as an example. You may provide the questions before a first reading of the passage. You may read the passage a second, and a third time, if necessary. The passage is as follows.
 

Thomas cracked three eggs into the bowl without dropping any shell into the omelet mixture. "This sure is a good start," he said to himself. "And if well begun is half done then this is going to be one excellent omelet!"
From What Your 5th Grader Needs To Know.

Emphasize the accepted meaning: If you start something off well, it will be easier to finish than if you had started wrongly.
Ask: Is it always true that well begun is half done? Under what circumstances would it not be true? (Accept reasonable answers.)

Additional Activities
Assign students to do any of the following activities. The aim is to provide a correct use of the saying Well begun is half done. Draw up a cartoon strip. Or, write a paragraph, or a dialogue, or a story. The very first words should be Well begun is half done.

You may ask students to recall from conversations, books, or movies situations in which the saying was used or in which it could have been used. Students may also be asked to seek out versions of this saying in English or other cultures. Students may also enjoy discovering sayings that seem to suggest the opposite.
 

Fifth Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - Bite the hand that feeds you
 

Objectives

Recognize the characteristics of the phrase: brevity, drama.

Understand the phrase when used in context.

Use the phrase appropriately.
 

Materials

Text of the phrase Bite the hand that feeds you, to be displayed on board
 

Suggested Books

Teacher Reference

Hirsch, E. D. What Your 5th Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

Morris, William. Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins. New York: Harper & Row, 1988.
 

Teacher Background

The focus in this lesson is on the context in which this phrase is used, and on its literary characteristics. You may choose to display the text in the classroom during the school year. The expression means ingratitude. It first appeared in the writings of Edmund Burke (1729-1797), who is considered one of the greatest British parliamentarians, and one of the best orators of all time. These writings were published after his death. Edmund Burke was Irish.
 

Procedure

Tell students that they are going to listen to a phrase and determine its characteristics and understand the situations in which this phrase can be used. Then, they will each create a new situation in which to use the phrase. Present the phrase, Bite the hand that feeds you orally or in writing, on the board or on chart paper. Check whether any of your students has heard this phrase before. Then, call on individual students to repeat the phrase. You may start by calling on those students who have heard the phrase before first.

Next, remind students that from the two previous lessons they learned that sayings could be brief, melodious, have rhythm, and rhyme. Remind students that these characteristics of sayings could help people remember them better. Ask students to repeat the phrase Bite the hand that feeds you, paying attention to the sound. Ask: Is the phrase Bite the hand that feeds you brief? (It is.) Ask: Is it melodious? (It may not be.) Ask: Does it have a rhythm the way Well begun is half done had a rhythm? (It may not.) Ask: What makes this phrase interesting, or striking? Or, What about the phrase Bite the hand that feeds you makes it catch your attention? You may prompt for an answer by asking: What does the word "bite" and the action of biting suggest to you? (anger, violence) What picture does it paint? What kind of being bites? (dogs, snakes)

Suggest that it is the drama of this phrase that makes it catch their attention. You may indicate, if necessary, that the word "drama" implies shock or surprise. Explain that this phrase may be dramatic because it makes people think of something striking; teeth, jaws. Also, it sets up a surprise. Explain, if necessary, that you are surprised when you expect something and you get another, very different thing. Point out that in the phrase Bite the hand that feeds you, someone is being kind. You may ask: Who is being kind? (The one that feeds.) What do you expect such a kind action to be paid back with? (kindness.) What do they get, instead? (a bite) You may ask: Is a bite an act of kindness? (no) Is a bite very different from an act of kindness? (yes) Emphasize to students that this is exactly what we mean when we use the phrase Bite the hand that feeds you. Emphasize that there is drama in the phrase Bite the hand that feeds you. Draw students' attention to the fact that it is easier to memorize words that are dramatic. You may illustrate by quoting lines from memorable movies, such as "I'll be back" said by Arnold Schwartznegger in Terminator.

You may ask: Is it polite to "bite the hand that feeds you"? (no) Emphasize, that since society usually teaches others to be polite, we usually advise others against biting the hand that feeds them, hence the negative commonly used before the phrase, as in "Don't bite the hand that feeds you." If students are unfamiliar with the phrase Bite the hand that feeds you, you may wish to use the following passage as an example. Jane tripped and fell. Paul helped her up. Jane then turned around and kicked him in the shin. "If this isn't biting the hand that fed you," said Paul, "then I don't know what is."
 

Additional Activity

You may ask students to recall from conversations, books, or movies situations in which the phrase was used or in which it could have been used? Ask: Can you imagine such a situation? The teacher may also seek out versions of this phrase in English or other cultures.
 

Fifth Grade - Literature - Poetry - The Eagle (Part 1)
 

Objectives

Understand the poem as a whole: theme (or subject) and its relation to title.
 

Materials

Text of the poem, "The Eagle"
 

Suggested Books

Teacher Reference

Hirsch, E. D. What Your 5th Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

Kuiper, Kathleen, ed. Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1995.
 

Teacher Background

This poem will be studied over two lessons. This lesson will focus on understanding the poem as a whole. The upcoming lesson will focus on poetic language.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, was born in Lincolnshire, England in 1809. He attended Cambridge, and wrote poems and plays. He wrote poetry at an early age and collaborated with his two brothers. He was a contemporary of Lewis Carroll (author of "Jabberwocky," studied this month) In 1850, he was appointed Poet Laureate by Queen Victoria. He published the popular Charge of The Light Brigade in 1855. He is considered as the principal representative of the Victorian Age in poetry. That age named after Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 to 1901 is considered genteel. His contemporaries include the compatriots Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, George Eliot, William Hardy, and Robert Browning. Alfred, Lord Tennyson died in 1892.

Vocabulary

Words from the poem

1. Azure: Azure refers to the blue of a clear unclouded sky.

2. Crag: A crag is a rough, broken, projecting part of a rock.

Note that these words should be presented on the board or on chart paper before the first reading and attention called to them, if you believe that they might be unfamiliar to your students.
 

Procedure

Tell students that they are going listen to a poem titled "The Eagle." Before the reading, tell students this poem was written by a man named Alfred, Lord Tennyson in England in the 1800s. Inform students that you will ask some questions before the reading of "The Eagle." Advise students that they should bear one or more of these questions in mind. Explain that these questions are a way of preparing oneself to enjoy a reading or a movie. You may also discuss the answers to these questions as a class. Remind students that they are much younger than Tennyson was then, that they live in a city in the United States, that in short they are different from Tennyson, but that is what poetry is about, one's own way of seeing things. Ask students to think of the following questions: If you were to write a poem which would bear the title "The Eagle," what would you write about? What would you include? What would you say? How would you say it? Whom would you write such a poem to? How much would you have to say about the eagle. Who would be interested in reading a poem with the title "The Eagle"? Ask:

What do you think Tennyson's poem is about? How many things can an eagle be? Have you ever seen an eagle? Did you see the eagle on television, in books, or in real life? What does the eagle mean to you? How do you feel about eagles?

Then, invite students to listen to what Alfred, Lord Tennyson had to say about "The Eagle." Ask them to think of nothing else but the poem, and to make themselves open to it. Present the poem "The Eagle" orally a first time.

The Eagle
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

He clasps the crag with crooked hands:
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

After the reading, ask: Is the poem what you expected? What was in the poem that you didn't expect? Then, ask students to listen to the poem again as you read it a second time. Present the poem in writing, on the board or on chart paper and ask students to listen to it and follow silently from the written text while you read the poem aloud a second time. Then, call on individual students to read the poem aloud from the front of the class or from their seats. Praise students for their reading. You may ask the class to applaud at the end of each reading to make it as supportive and theatrical an environment as possible.

Check for comprehension of the poem by asking what is "The Eagle" about? What does it describe of the eagle? (its movements, the place where it lives) What can you say about the eagle from the poem? What can you say about where the eagle lives? Ensure that the answers are supported by actual words in the poem. You may acknowledge facts from sources other than the poem, but these sources should be kept distinct from the actual words in the text.

Next, check for appreciation of the poem by asking students: Were you satisfied with the poem? In your view was something missing from the poem? (You may allow discussion.) Finally, ask: Why is the poem titled "The Eagle"? (because it is about the eagle)
 

Additional Activities

You may present the following activity to your students. Tell them that words are mental pictures and so are poems. Ask, after reading and listening to the poem "The Eagle", what is the one word that is a mental picture of the idea in the poem? (Accept reasonable answers. You may ask for supporting text for the students' choice of image.) For example, the picture of a race car
might leave you with the mental picture of speed.

You may also ask that students working either in groups or as individuals illustrate this poem with a drawing of their own, with photographs, or with published drawings, postage stamps, etc. You may suggest that they draw arrows from sections of the poems to the part of the drawing or photograph that these illustrations speak to.
 

Journal Entry

Finally, you may prompt students to make entries into their Reading Response Journalsby expressing their feelings towards the poem. Advise them that they may state whether they liked the poem or not. They may go on to state what they liked or didn't like about the poem and even what would have made them like the poem even more. In their Reading Response Journals, students may discuss whether a picture, a movie, or a drawing would have given them a clearer picture of the eagle than was given by the poem and also, why they thought so.
 

Fifth Grade - Literature - Poetry - The Eagle (Part 2)
 

Objectives

Understand concepts: literal language, figurative language, personification, and alliteration.
 

Materials

Text of the poem, "The Eagle," included (for display on board or on chart paper)
 

Suggested Books

Teacher Reference

Hirsch, E. D. What Your 5th Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

Kuiper, Kathleen, ed. Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1995.
 

Teacher Background

This lesson will focus on literal language, figurative language, personification, and alliteration. This is the second of two lessons devoted to the study of "The Eagle."

Scientists, mathematicians, and poets all use words, but scientists and mathematicians on the one hand and poets on the other both use words differently. The difference is that when scientists and mathematicians use words, they are trying to be precise and clear. They want readers to get exactly what they mean. To the scientist, sugar is sugar and not salt. To the mathematician, one is not two, nor zero, but one. Scientists and mathematicians want to be understood quickly with no confusion. The language they use for their work is literal.

Poets as opposed to scientists and mathematicians use language that is powerful, strange, and colorful. Poets often use words that mean more than they at first seem to. Language that seeks to be powerful, spark our emotion and imagination is figurative language. Figurative language is the opposite of literal language. It is language that speaks to our emotions and the imagination.

To give an animal or an inanimate object the qualities of a person is to personify that animal or thing, a device called "personification."

Alliteration means starting several words in a row with the same first letter or the same sound. That repetition is a way of imitating a sound related to the theme of the poem.
 

Vocabulary

Words in the poem

Azure: Azure refers to the blue of a clear unclouded sky.

Crag: A crag is a rough, broken, projecting part of a rock.

Note that these words should be presented on the board or on chart paper alongside the text of "The Eagle."
 

Words in the lesson

1. Alliteration: Alliteration means starting several words in a row with the same sound or first letter.

2. Figurative: Figurative language is the opposite of literal language. It is language that speaks to our emotions and the imagination.

3. Literal: Literal means clear and precise. Literal language says exactly what it means.

4. Personification: Personification is giving an animal or an inanimate object the qualities of a person.
 

Procedure

Tell students that in this lesson, they are going to look more closely at the language of "The Eagle." Present the text of the poem on the board or on chart paper. Invite a few individual students to read the poem aloud.

The Eagle
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

He clasps the crag with crooked hands:
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Explain to students that scientists, mathematicians, and poets all use words, but that scientists and mathematicians on the one hand, and poets on the other, use words differently. The difference is that when scientists and mathematicians use words they are trying to be precise and clear. This means, they want readers to get exactly what they mean. To the scientist, sugar is sugar and not salt. To the mathematician, one is not two, nor zero, but one. Scientists and mathematicians want to be understood quickly with no confusion. The language they use for their work is literal. You should write the following on the board: Literal language is language that is clear and precise. It says exactly what it means.

Next, ask students whether poetry is always clear, and whether they understood "The Eagle" as a whole, its stanzas, lines, and words, at the first reading. Explain that poets as opposed to scientists and mathematicians want to use language that is powerful, strange, colorful, and that poets often use words that mean more than they at first seem to. Explain that language that seeks to be powerful, to spark our emotion and imagination is figurative language. You may write this on the board, or on chart paper. Figurative language is the opposite of literal language. It is language that speaks to our emotions and the imagination. Write the definition on the board.

Then, explain that the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson used both literal and figurative language in "The Eagle." Ask students to pick out words that are literal, precise and clear and mean only one thing (crooked, sun, sea). Ask students to pick out phrases that are figurative, that mean more than at first they seem to because they cannot be taken literally (close to the sun, mountain walls). Explain that the eagle is not literally close to the sun, and that the mountains are not what we would ordinarily call "walls."

Next, point to the words "He," "hands," "wrinkled," and "crawls." Students may already have found the words "he" "hands" "wrinkled" and "crawls" strange in this poem, ask why was their use surprising? Explain that "He" is a pronoun in line 1, and that a pronoun stands in place of a noun. Ask: What noun does "he" replace? (the eagle). Ask: Is "he" the correct pronoun grammatically speaking, for the eagle? Ask: What pronoun would have been more appropriate instead of "he"? (it) Ask: By using "he" and not "it" to stand for the eagle, what is the poet saying about the eagle? (That the eagle is like a human being, and especially a male person, a man.) Conclude then, that the word "he" in this poem means more than at first it seems. Emphasize that in using "he" to represent the eagle the poet has given an animal the characteristics of a person. Explain that to give an animal or an inanimate object the qualities of a person is to personify that animal or thing. Conclude that the poet has personified the eagle. Explain that the noun from personify is "personification." Ask students to find other examples of personification in the poem? (hands) Then, explain that eagles do not have hands. They have claws. Explain that human beings have hands and point out that this use of "hands" is an example of personifying the eagle, that is, treating it like a person. Point out that there is another object in the poem that is being personified or given human qualities. Ask: What is that object? Guide students' search by indicating that the example sought is in stanza 2, line 1 (sea). Ask: What are the words that should describe a person and not the sea? (wrinkled, crawls) Ask: whether the sea is a living thing (no).

Explain that alliteration means starting several words in a row with the same first letter or the same sound. Explain that such repetition usually is a way of imitating a sound related to the theme of the poem. Ask students to identify an example of alliteration in the poem. (hard "c" sound that starts the words "clasps," "crag," and "crooked" in line 1). Explain that the hard "c" sound might be the poet's attempt to imitate the sounds resulting from the eagle's talons on rocks. Ask students to try imagining that sound as it is produced by the eagle's talons on rocks.

Finally, to put these literary devices in perspective, ask individual students to read "The Eagle" in such a way as to express their new sensitivity to literal language, figurative language, personification, and alliteration. You should look for signs of improvement in these readings. Readers may stress the alliteration, and change the pace at which they deliver certain lines, for example. You may ask students if having studied the literary devices in the poem made a difference in their reading.
 

Additional Activity

You may assign the following exercise. Ask students to write about a poem about another animal, bird, fish, even a person. You may wish to offer the following guidelines. Write a poem of two stanzas. The title should tell what the poem is about. The first line should start with the name of the thing that you are writing about (the subject). You should be familiar with the sight, sound, smell, taste, feel of your subject.
 

Fifth Grade - Literature - Poetry - Narcissa (Part 1)
 

Objectives

Understand the poem's theme.
 

Materials

Text of the poem, "Narcissa"
 

Suggested Books

Teacher Reference

Costello, Robert B. Random House Webster's College Dictionary. New York: Random House, 1996.

Hirsch, E. D. What Your 5th Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

________ The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.
 

Student Reference

Hoffman, Mary. Amazing Grace. New York: Scholastic, 1991. The story of Grace, a little girl who can do anything she puts her mind to. With strikingly clear drawings and a lively readable text. Students will have fun identifying the references to the great characters in literature. Amazing Grace is written on a First Grade reading level. You may recommend that your students check it out from the library and read it.
 

Teacher Background

This is the first of two lessons devoted to "Narcissa." It will focus on understanding the poem as a whole. The second will focus on the literary device that is alliteration. You may ask your students to look for this device even during this lesson. However, it won't be discussed until the next lesson.

Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas in 1917. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago, and still lives in Illinois. She was influenced by Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Emily Dickinson, spirituals, jazz, and rap. Most of her 15 books of poetry are about the everyday life of inner-city poor Blacks. She was the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, 1950. She won the prize for Annie Allen. Her poetry is simple, direct, in a "down-home" kind of style.

Narcissus: A beautiful youth in classical mythology, who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. Because he was unable to tear himself from the image, he wasted away and died. (The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy)

Narcissus: 1. Any bulbous plant belonging to the genus Narcissus of the amaryllis family, having showy, yellow or white flowers with a cup-shaped corona. 2. (in Greek myth) a youth who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool: after his death he was transformed into the narcissus flower. (Random House Webster's College Dictionary)

Please note that you should present the word 'pomp' and its meaning on the board or on chart paper if you believe it might be unfamiliar to your students.

Vocabulary

In the poem

1. Pomp: Pomp means splendor; magnificence.
 

*Note also, if students refer to what Narcissa is doing as 'daydreaming' and not 'imagining,' you may ask them for the differences in the meanings of both those words. You may also point to the differences between daydreaming and imagining. Daydreaming usually implies drifting, just getting away without thinking in an organized way. That is why one may not remember where he has been after he has been daydreaming. Narcissa on the other hand, remembers. She chose to be those things and go those places.
 

Procedure

Tell students that they are going to study a poem titled "Narcissa."

Next, present the title in writing on the board or on chart paper and have students prepare for the reading by asking them if they have heard that word before, and whether the word "Narcissa" means anything to them. Ask also what they expect from a poem whose title is "Narcissa"? Tell them that the poem "Narcissa" was written by the poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Ask whether they have heard the poet's name before, and whether they have read any other poem written by Gwendolyn Brooks. If they have, inquire after that poem's title, and what that poem was about. Remind students that in Second Grade, they studied "Rudolph is Tired of The City." Tell them that poem was written by the same author. Ask also, based on the poem they had read by Brooks if they expected anything in this poem "Narcissa." Ask what they expected by way of language, subject matter or theme. Ask whether they know of the life of Gwendolyn Brooks and how that knowledge of the circumstances of her life might tell them what to expect from this poem "Narcissa." You may allow students to discuss these questions.

Immediately before the reading, ask students to sit comfortably, and not be distracted. They may close their eyes if they want to and listen to the words of the poem. Then, present the poem, "Narcissa" orally a first time.

After the reading, tell students that you are going to ask a few questions to check how much they understood of the poem. The answers may be oral. The questions are as follows: Narcissa is ............? Or, who, or what is Narcissa? (a girl) How old is Narcissa? (Accept answers supported by the text.) Where does Narcissa live? (Accept answers supported by the text.) Does Narcissa have many friends? (Accept answers suggested by the text.) Are there other characters besides Narcissa in the poem? (yes) Who are these other characters? (girls) What are they doing? (playing jacks, playing ball) What is Narcissa doing? (nothing at all) Why is Narcissa not with the other girls? (She is too small.) Does Narcissa want to be with the other girls? (Accept reasonable answers.) What about you, would you want to play with the other girls or boys? Is Narcissa sad that she is by herself? Would you be all by yourself? Why isn't Narcissa sad? In real life, is Narcissa an ancient queen? (no) In real life, is Narcissa a singing wind? (no) In real life, is Narcissa a nightingale? (no) If she is none of those things does she become them? What is the word to describe what Narcissa is doing when the poem says "She is a singing wind?" (make-believe, imagining)*

Emphasize that this is what poetry and literature in general are all about, make-believe, or imagination. Reading literature is about entering that make-believe world, sharing it with the writer. Ask students: What do you think life would be without literature: poetry, stories, novels, plays, the movies, the opera and without imagination? What would the long hot summers be like without literature and the imagination? What would long trips by boat, sea, train be like without literature and the imagination? What would our hospital stays be like? You may allow discussion of the answers to these questions.

Tell students that boredom is a problem to many young people and that boredom is being inactive in body or mind. Ask: Is Narcissa bored? (no) Is Narcissa active? (yes) Is Narcissa active in body or mind? (mind) How do you fight boredom?

Present the poem in writing, on the board or on chart paper or project it. Ask the students to listen to it and follow silently from the written text. Call on individual students to read the poem aloud to the class preferably from the front of the class or from their seat. Ask: What do you think is the message of the poem "Narcissa"? (You can be anywhere, anyone, and do anything, if you put your mind to it.)
 

Additional Activity

You may assign the following activity. The exercise can be written or oral. Here are a few questions to ask yourself. Think of the answers. See how well you know yourself. It is a survey of readers' attitudes and habits.

1. Are you ever bored? Never? Sometimes? Often?

2. What times of the year are you bored if ever? Summer? Winter? Spring? Fall?

3. What time of day are you bored? Morning? Noon? Night?

4. When you are bored what do you do? Play? Read? Imagine? Daydream? Other: ....

5. What do you read? Poems? Stories? Novels?

6. What do you like to read about?

7. Who is your favorite author?

8. What is your favorite book, story, or poem?

9. Who is your favorite character?

10. What do you like most about reading?
 

Fifth Grade - Literature - Poetry - Narcissa (Part 2)
 

Objectives

Analyze the poem's language: alliteration
 

Materials

Text of the poem, "Narcissa"
 

Suggested Books

Teacher Reference

Costello, Robert B. Random House Webster's College Dictionary. New York: Random House, 1996.

Hirsch, E. D. What Your 5th Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

________ The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.
 

Student Reference

Hoffman, Mary. Amazing Grace. New York: Scholastic, 1991. The story of Grace, a little girl who can do anything she puts her mind to. With strikingly clear drawings and a lively readable text. Students will have fun identifying the references to the great characters in literature. Amazing Grace is written on a First Grade reading level.
 

Teacher Background

This is the second of two lessons devoted to the study of "Narcissa." This lesson will focus on the literary device that is alliteration. Alliteration is discussed in the Teacher Background section of the second lesson devoted to the poem "The Eagle." In that lesson, alliteration is defined as starting several words in a row with the same sound or first letter. It was noted also that such repetition is a way of imitating a sound related to the theme of the poem.

Vocabulary

In the poem

1. Pomp: Pomp means splendor; magnificence.
 

In the lesson

1. Alliteration: Alliterations means starting several words in a row with the same sound or first letter.

Procedure

Remind students that in the previous lesson, they read the poem "Narcissa." Tell students that in this lesson, they are going to discuss the literary device that is alliteration.

Check that they remember what alliteration is. You may cite the example of the hard "c" sounds in line 1 of "The Eagle" which read as follows: "He clasps the crag with crooked hands:" Check that they remember what that sound might be an imitation of. If they do not, remind students that it might be the poet's attempt to imitate the sound of an eagle's talons on rocks. Emphasize that alliteration often seeks to imitate a sound related to the subject of a poem. Now ask students to seek out the examples of alliteration as you read the poem aloud. You may invite students to read the poem aloud or to themselves from the board or chart paper while they attempt this exercise.

Next, present the poem, "Narcissa" orally or in writing.

You should allow time for students to re-read during this exercise. You may allow for group or individual work.

You may guide the students' search for alliteration by asking them to notice the sounds or letters that the poet uses most often. For example, say: Look at the first stanza of the poem, "Narcissa." Which letters are most commonly used? (s, l, a) Say: Alliteration is the repetition of the first sound or letter, and so the most common beginning sound or letter in the poem is "s." You may guide their search stanza by stanza, or line by line. The soft sound of "s" is repeated in the poem. Emphasize once more that alliteration means starting several words in a row with the same first letter or sound. Emphasize that the repeated "s" sound is the example of alliteration. Call on students to read the poem with that discovery in mind.

Next ask: Why would the poet repeat the letter 's'? Or, What is the purpose of the alliteration in this poem? To guide students' search, ask: What does the soft sound of 's' suggest? Explain that it may suggest silence to the poet. Ask how is the idea of silence related to the poem. Explain that silence, sleep, and dreams are all related and that is probably the sense that poet wanted to convey in order for us to imagine Narcissa's world. Emphasize also that the "s" sound may imitate or suggest other sounds in the poem and ask students to find those connections (singing wind, song of nightingale, silky veil, shaking pigtails).
 

Fifth Grade - Literature - Poetry - Jabberwocky
 

Objectives

Enjoy a nonsense poem.

Analyze the poem's language: onomatopoeia.
 

Materials

Text of the poem, "Jabberwocky"
 

Suggested Books

Teacher Reference

Costello, Robert B. Random House Webster's College Dictionary. New York: Random House, 1996.

Hirsch, E. D. What Your 5th Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

Kuiper, Kathleen, ed. Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1995.
 

Teacher Note

This lesson will focus on the literary device that is onomatopoeia.

Lewis Carroll was born Charles Dodgson in England in 1832. He wrote poems and novels. As a boy, he was shy and he stammered. By age 11, he entertained his family with games and plays. He grew up to become a mathematician and photographer. He was a contemporary of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. His illustrator was John Tenniel. Carroll told the story of Alice in Wonderland to the little girl he befriended. Her name was Alice. Alice in Wonderland is one of the world's most popular books and has been translated into many languages. Lewis Carroll died in 1898.

Jabber:1.To speak rapidly, indistinctly, incoherently, or nonsensically. (Random House Webster's College Dictionary)

Jabberwock: Fictional character, a ferocious monster described in the nonsense poem "Jabberwocky," which appears in the novel Through The Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.

Jabberwocky: Nonsensical or unintelligible speech or writing.

(Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature.)
 

You should note that "Jabberwocky" is a nonsense poem and that Lewis Carroll was a writer for children, who sought to be humorous. He considered making the first and last stanzas of "Jabberwocky" reverse print so that the reader would have had to hold the text up to a mirror to be able to read them. These stanzas are the most popular of the poem. "Jabberwocky" is a parody or distorted imitation of Old English poetry.

It might also be useful to keep in mind that in "Jabberwocky," you may encounter many distortions of natural language: the speech of someone who has a lisp, one who stammers, one who repeats words, etc.
 

Vocabulary

1. Onomatopoeia: Onomatopoeia refers to words that sound like what they describe.

Procedure

You may want to project, or display this poem on the board from the start of the lesson

and invite students to read it themselves before you do. Students may have fun reading this poem individually or chorally. Tell your students that this is a poem that is meant to be read for enjoyment, not for any deep meaning, but for the sound of it, and let them read it.

You may have to have to give your students a demonstration in reading "Jabberwocky." In that case, try to convey the sense of dramatic action that is evident in the poem.
 

Jabberwocky

by Lewis Carroll

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogroves
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, that claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The fruminous Bandersnatch!"
 

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought--
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tugley wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And thou hast slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
He chortled in his joy.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogroves
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Ask students to seek out instances of the sound effect that is onomatopoeia in this poem. Introduce the term "onomatopoeia" by writing it on the board or on chart paper. Explain that onomatopoeia refers to words that sound like what they describe. Explain that onomatopoeia is common in comic books. For example, an explosion is often written, "BOOM!" Explain however that not all examples of onomatopoeia are as dramatic. Offer the more subtle examples of "buzz," "clack," and "gurgle" and ask students to relate the meanings to the sounds. Next ask students to search for examples of onomatopoeia in "Jabberwocky." They should find plenty, including "jabberwock," "catch," "burbled," "snicker-snack," "Callooh!," "Callay!," and "chortled." You may ask students to relate meaning to sound in these examples, but most of all be sure to present this poem as a riot of sound and meaningless fun!

Finally, you may inform your students that this poem was written by a mathematician and ask them to reflect on their own reaction to that piece of biographical information.
 

Bibliography

Teacher Reference

Costello, Robert B. Random House Webster's College Dictionary. New York: Random House, 1996. (0-679-43886-6)

*Hirsch, E. D. What Your 5th Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1993. (0-385-21464-7)

________The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993 (0-395-65597-8)

Morris, William. Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. (0-06-015862-X)

Kuiper, Kathleen, Ed. Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1995. (0-87779-042-6)
 

Student Reference

Hoffman, Mary. Amazing Grace. New York: Scholastic, 1991. (0-590-46009-9)

*Strongly recommended for lessons.