Lessons & Units :: Home of the Brave 6th Grade Unit

Genre Lesson: Narrative Poetry

Lesson Plan

Home of the Brave

Home of the Brave
Learning Goal
Differentiate between narrative and lyric poetry.
Approximately 2 Days (40 minutes for each class)
Necessary Materials
Provided: Story Elements Checklist, Types of Poetry Worksheet (Student Packet, pages 2-3), Verse Novel Story Elements Checklist (Student Packet, page 4)
Not Provided: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate
  • Activation & Motivation

    The class will create a group story. The teacher will start the story with a sentence, a student will make up the second line of the story, and each student will then continue on with another line of the story until it is completed. There is one catch—every two people must rhyme their final words. So, if the teacher says, “Once upon a time, there was an awful teenage boy,” the student would finish the couplet by saying, “he broke his mother’s vase, he stole his sister’s toys.” The next person will create the first line of a new rhyming phrase, but must continue the story until the story comes to an end (or the teacher ends it). After the activity is completed, have the class summarize their rhyming story. Ask, "Who was the story about? Where/when did it take place? What was the problem? What happened?"

  • Teacher Modeling

    will explain that there are two main types of poetry—narrative poetry and lyric poetry. Narrative poetry tells a story. It has characters, a setting, and a plot problem and solution. Unlike fiction texts (novels and short stories), narrative poetry uses sound devices, repetition, and poetic verses. Our rhyming story was an example of a narrative poem because it used a poetic device—rhyming—to tell a story. Note: The two types of poetry divide up into a myriad of poetic forms. For example, narrative poetry includes ballads and verse novels, while lyric poetry includes sonnets and haikus.

    Lyric poetry, on the other hand, expresses a poet’s thoughts and feelings about a single image, experience, or idea. It is written in musical, poetic language. A lyric poem might have some story element, but it will not have all of them. For example, a lyric poem might be about this classroom, so it will have setting elements, but it will not have a plot problem, so it is not a story.

    To figure out if poetry is narrative or lyric, I will ask myself, “Is this poetry telling me a story, or is this poetry an expression of a single idea, image, or experience?” I am going to model answering this question with two poems from Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends. I am going to use the Story Elements Checklist to help me determine whether the poem is a story or not. If all the elements are checked off, I can determine that the poem is a narrative. If only some of the elements are checked off, I can determine that the poem is an example of lyric poetry.

    First, I am going to read “Jimmy Jet and His TV Set” and decide whether it is an example of lyric or narrative poetry. I will note that there is a character—Jimmy Jet. The setting is in front of his TV set (probably in his living room). The plot problem is that he watches too much television. The problem is resolved when Jimmy becomes a television at the end of the poem. I can see that there are all of the story elements in this poem, so I will conclude that it is a narrative poem.

    Next, I am going to read “For Sale.” I notice that there are characters in this poem—the main character (who I do not know much about) and his or her little sister. There is a plot problem—the main character does not like his or her sister. There is no setting or plot resolution. (Does he end up selling her? Does he go home disappointed? Nothing happens beyond the main character trying to sell his or her little sister.) I can conclude that this poem is not narrative poetry because the poem does not have all of the story elements. It does not have a complete plot, and it does not have a setting.

  • Think Check

    Ask: "How can I tell if a poem is an example of narrative or lyric poetry?" Students should answer that if the poem has all of the elements of a story—characters, setting, a plot problem and solution—it is a narrative. If it has only a few of the story elements and focuses on a single idea or experience, the poem is probably an example of lyric poetry.

  • Guided Practice

    will read more three poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends and use the Story Elements Checklist to determine whether or not each poem is narrative. First, we will read the poem “Homemade Boat.” As we read, we will fill in our Story Elements Checklist. We will identify the plot problem (a boat was built without a bottom), but we will determine that we do not know anything about the characters, the setting, or plot solution. Nothing happens except that a boat is built without a bottom. This is not a narrative poem, but a lyric one. The poet is trying to joke about building a boat without a bottom.

    Next, we will read the poem “Sick” and use our Story Elements Checklist to determine if the poem is narrative or lyric. We identified a character (a student named Peggy Ann McKay), a setting (in bed, away from school), a plot problem (the narrator does not want to go to school), and a plot solution (it turns out that it is not a school day after all). We can determine that this poem is a narrative poem.

    Finally, we will read the poem “Colors” and use our Story Elements Checklist to determine if the poem is narrative or lyric. We will check off character because we are learning about the colors of the poem’s narrator, but there is no plot problem or solution, and no setting. We know this poem is not narrative but lyric. The poet is trying to show us the experience of being multicolored and not easily boxed in.

  • Independent Practice

    will use the story elements checklist to determine whether the poetry on the Types of Poetry Worksheet in your Student Packet is narrative or lyric. (See pages 2-3 in the Student Packet.) 

    As a class, we will be reading Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate. Home of the Brave is a verse novel. A verse novel is a type of narrative poetry. Each section may look like an individual poem that shows the reader an experience or image (like a lyric poem), but put together, the sections make a novel-length story. While you read Home of the Brave, you will fill in the Verse Novel Story Elements Checklist in your Student Packet by recording all of the elements you find in the book. (See page 4 in the Student Packet.)

  • Reflective Practice

    will come together and share the answers to our Types of Poetry Worksheet. We will discuss why an author might choose to tell a story in poetic form, and why a poet might want to tell a story instead of share an image or experience. At the end of the unit, we will return to our Verse Novel Story Elements Checklist and discuss the story elements we found in Home of the Brave.

Build Student Vocabulary bidding

Tier 2 Word: bidding
Contextualize the word as it is used in the story “One sister for sale! One sister for sale! One crying and spying young sister for sale! I’m really not kidding, So who will start the bidding?”
Explain the meaning student-friendly definition) If someone is bidding on something, they are making an offer to buy or exchange it. When the narrator of the poem asked who will start the bidding, he meant that he wanted someone to offer to buy or exchange his sister. He was making a joke because people are not bid on, objects are.
Students repeat the word Say the word bidding with me: bidding.
Teacher gives examples of the word in other contexts We bid $500 on the painting and we were able to buy it. The bidding for the couch started at $100.
Students provide examples What is something that someone could bid on? Start by saying, “Someone could bid on ___________________________.”
Students repeat the word again. What word are we talking about? bidding
Additional Vocabulary Words spying

Texts & Materials

Standards Alignment

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