Lesson 2: The Tone of a Poem
Leaf by Leaf: Autumn Poems | NP
- Learning Goal
- Describe the emotion or tone of a poem.
- Approximately 2 Days (35-40 minutes for each class)
- Necessary Materials
- Provided: Voice Teacher Example Chart 1, Voice Teacher Example Chart 2, Voice Worksheet (Student Packet, page 10)
Not Provided: Chart paper, markers, Leaf by Leaf: Autumn Poems selected by Barbara Rogasky
Before the Lesson
Read the poems and complete the Student Packet Worksheets for “The Sheaves,” “London Voluntaries,” “Autumn Evening,” “The Alchemist in the City,” and “Lady in Grey.”
Activation & Motivation
Show students photographs from Leaf by Leaf that accompanies “November Day” and “Two Lives and Others.” Ask students: "When you look at each photograph, how does it make you feel?" Encourage discussion among the class. "What is it about the photographs that make you feel this way? (Color, subjects, etc.) How do your feelings differ about each photograph?"
will explain that like photos, poetry also conveys a strong emotion. While photographers use colors, shades, and the subject to evoke a feeling, poets use words and language to evoke a feeling. I will define the tone or voice of a poem as the mood that influences a reader’s emotional response to a poem. Tone sets the stage for how the reader feels while reading. I will explain that in order to describe the tone or voice of a poem, good readers look at the words and phrases that the poet uses.
I will read aloud “The Chipmunk’s Day” and identify its tone or voice. After I’ve read the poem once, I will immediately record any emotions I felt while reading the poem on Voice Chart 1. When I read this poem, I feel happy and light. (See Voice Teacher Example Chart 1 for specific examples.)
Next, I will go back and underline words or phrases in the poem that led me to feel this way. The first stanza of the poem sets the tone by describing what the poem is about. The words the poet uses, such as “flashes,” “dashes,” “stuffs,” and “streaks” give me an active feeling. I feel happy when I read this poem because it describes what a chipmunk does by using active and positive words, such as “warm,” “sweet,” “neat,” and “shining.” Now I can draw a conclusion about the overall tone or voice of the poem. The overall tone of “The Chipmunk’s Day” is happy and light. I will record this on Voice Chart 1.
Poems are meant to be read aloud, so I will reread this poem aloud using the tone I have identified, since this is how the poet wants the work to be read. (Explain to students that reading the poem with an opposite tone would make the poem feel very different, perhaps even changing the meaning of the poem. For example, if “The Chipmunk’s Day” was read in a sad or angry voice, it would make the poem seem odd or wrong. Identifying a poem’s voice is important because it helps the reader to properly understand it.)
Ask: "How can I figure out the tone or voice of a poem?" Students should respond that you can look for words or phrases that are meant to elicit an emotional response from the reader. You can make notes about how you feel as you reread the poem, and then use the notes to draw a conclusion about the overall feeling from the poem. Finally, you can read the poem aloud using the tone and emotion that was felt from the poem.
will identify the tone or voice of the poem, “The Sheaves.” Note: You may want to write the poem on chart paper or the board before the lesson so students can refer to the lines of the poem. We will read the poem aloud once through and immediately record our initial reaction to the poem. We will write these feelings on our Voice Chart 2. We will answer the question: How does the poem make us feel? Engage students in a discussion to describe their feelings, and record their feelings on the Chart. Note: See Voice Teacher Example Chart 2 for specific examples.
Next, we will identify the words and phrases that evoked these feelings in us. For example, we might say that the final line of the poem, “As if a thousand girls with golden hair might rise from where they slept and go away” gives us a feeling of sadness or a sense of urgency that this golden beauty would soon wither away. We will record this on Voice Chart 2.
We will draw a conclusion about the poem’s tone or voice. We could say that the overall tone or emotion of the poem is awe, sadness, or urgency. We will record this on Voice Chart 2. Finally, we will reread the poem aloud in the specific tone we have identified.
will read “The Alchemist in the City.” You will record your feelings about the poem on the Voice Worksheet in your Student Packet. (See page 10 in the Student Packet.) You will then go back and identify the words and phrases that support your thinking as you identify the overall tone or voice of the poem.
will come together to share our findings about the tone of the poem. We will reread the poem aloud with the tone we have identified.
Build Student Vocabulary yield
|Tier 2 Word: yield|
|Contextualize the word as it is used in the story||“Green wheat was yielding to the change assigned; / And as by some vast magic undivined / The world was turning slowly into gold.”|
|Explain the meaning student-friendly definition)||Yielding means to give in or bend under pressure. In this poem, green wheat is yielding, or giving into the changing of the seasons and turning into a golden color.|
|Students repeat the word||Say the word yield with me: yield|
|Teacher gives examples of the word in other contexts||She yielded her wallet to the criminal without an argument; she just put it in his hand. The locked door yielded after the officer gave it a hard kick. I will never yield to the enemy! I refuse to surrender or give up!|
|Students provide examples||Have you ever yielded to someone else’s pressure? Tell me about it by saying “I yielded to __________________________.”|
|Students repeat the word again.||What word are we talking about? yield|
|Additional Vocabulary Words||suave, droop, glide, broad, sheaves|
Texts & Materials
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