Analyze Structure, Language, and Theme: “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2019 G7:M3:U1:L7

Analyze Structure, Language, and Theme: “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”

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Focus Standards: These are the standards the instruction addresses.

  • RL.7.2, RL.7.4, RL.7.5, L.7.5

Supporting Standards: These are the standards that are incidental—no direct instruction in this lesson, but practice of these standards occurs as a result of addressing the focus standards.

  • RL.7.1, L.7.4, SL.7.1

Daily Learning Targets

  • I can analyze how the structure of "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" contributes to its meaning. (RL.7.4, RL.7.5)
  • I can determine the meaning of figurative language in "The Negro Speaks of Rivers." (RL.7.4, L.7.5)
  • I can identify a theme and explain how it develops over the course of "The Negro Speaks of Rivers." (RL.7.2)

Ongoing Assessment

  • Opening A: Entrance Ticket: Unit 1, Lesson 7 (L.7.4)
  • Works Time A and B: Analyze Poetry note-catcher (RL.7.2, RL.7.4, RL.7.5, L.7.5)
  • Closing and Assessment A: Language Dive: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Lines 4 and 13 note-catcher (RL.7.2, RL.7.4, L.7.5)

Agenda

AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Engage the Learner - L.7.4 (5 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Read and Analyze Structure: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" - RL.7.5 (20 minutes)

B. Read and Analyze Language and Theme: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" - RL.7.2, RL.7.4 (10 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Language Dive: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Lines 4 and 13 - RL.7.2, RL.7.4, L.7.5 (10 minutes)

4. Homework

A. Synthesis Questions: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers": In preparation for the end of unit assessment, students complete Homework: Synthesis Questions: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers."

B. Independent Research Reading: Students read for at least 20 minutes in their independent research reading text. Next, they select a prompt and write a response in their independent reading journal.

Alignment to Assessment Standards and Purpose of Lesson

  • L.7.4 – Opening A: On an entrance ticket, students match the people and places to prepare to interpret the allusions in “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”
  • RL.7.5 – Work Time A: Students work as a class to analyze how the structure impacts the meaning of the poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”
  • RL.7.2 – Work Time B: Students identify a theme and explain how it develops over the course of the poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” 
  • RL.7.4 – Work Time B: Students work as a class to analyze the figurative language of “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”
  • L.7.5 – Work Time B: Students interpret figures of speech in the poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” 
  • RL.7.7 – Closing and Assessment A: Students participate in a language dive to closely examine language structures in a line from “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”
  • In this lesson, students focus on becoming effective learners by collaborating to read and analyze the structure, language, and theme of the poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”
  • The poem discussed in this lesson uses the term “negro.” The lesson includes instruction to provide further context for the use of this term at the time the poem was written, but continue to support students and provide an opportunity for discussion around issues arising from this subject matter.
  • The Think-Pair-Share protocol is used in this lesson. Protocols are an important feature of our curriculum because they are one of the best ways to engage students in discussion, inquiry, critical thinking, and sophisticated communication. A protocol consists of agreed-upon, detailed guidelines for reading, recording, discussing, or reporting that ensure equal participation and accountability in learning.
  • Poetry can be interpreted in different ways. Be sure to acknowledge that there are multiple valid interpretations of the poems in this module, and welcome differing student interpretations that can be supported by the text. The sample responses in the lessons were chosen as examples of reasonable interpretations given the amount of time and instruction. Keep in mind that students may arrive at very different, equally valid interpretations. If time permits, lead students in a more in-depth analysis of any of the poems in this module.

Opportunities to Extend Learning

  • Release more responsibility more quickly to students as they comprehend the tasks or concepts. For example: 
    • Allow students to create their own note-catcher, as this is a skill they will need for high school, college, and even in careers. Challenge students to read the learning targets and then determine how they would take notes about how poems develop meaning (themes) through figurative language and structure.
    • Encourage those students who show greater facility with poetry analysis to expand their interpretation paragraphs and share with the class any other examples of elements that develop the theme that they identified.
    • Invite students to create an accompanying illustration, sculpture, or painting that interprets the poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” visually. 
    • Invite students to participate in a choral read of the poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” focusing on reading aloud with rhythm and expression. Provide students a distinct copy of the poem highlighted in a particular way, so that they read only their highlighted portion. Lines or phrases are read, with some lines or phrases read in pairs, some in small groups, some in the whole group, and some by a single reader.
    • For students who would like to further research the rivers and historical context that Hughes mentions in the poem, provide devices or articles. Invite students to share their newfound knowledge about the references in the poem with the class and their ideas about how those references contribute to the theme and meaning of the poem.

How It Builds on Previous Work

  • In previous lessons, students have focused on comparing the text of songs to their musical performance, including analyzing the text for figurative language and theme. Students have also analyzed these elements in a poem. In this lesson, students build on these skills of interpretation by analyzing how a poet structures a work and uses figurative language to develop a theme.

Support All Students

  • Group those students who may have difficulty understanding the poem, offering more readings for comprehension, as well as activities to support finding the gist, basic meaning of the words, and theme. ▲
  • Support students who are not yet reading independently. Read a stanza aloud and then release students to read independently, in pairs or small groups. Invite students who require the whole poem to be read aloud to sit in a group away from the rest of the students, so as not to be distracting. Reread the poem multiple times, discussing rhyme and repetition. ▲
  • Students may need additional support identifying figurative language. Remind students of the work they did in the first half of the unit, identifying language that stood in for or conveyed another idea. Guide small groups or partners who are struggling with identifying and analyzing this language. ▲
  • The subject matter in this poem includes seeing the Mississippi’s “muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset” and how “Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans”—figurative references to slavery and emancipation. Continue to monitor students to determine if issues surface from the content of this poem that need to be discussed as a whole group, in smaller groups, or individually. To support students in processing this content, ask: “What habit of character did you use as you read and discussed this poem?” Students may need to draw on perseverance, empathy, compassion as they read and discuss this content, being sensitive to their own and others’ reactions to the information presented.

Assessment Guidance

  • Review students’ Analyze Poetry note-catchers to ensure students understand how the author structures the text and uses figurative language in order to develop themes.

Down the Road

  • In the next lesson, students will continue to analyze poetry, reading “Calling Dreams” by Georgia Douglas Johnson and discussing elements of structure, figurative language, and theme with partners and in small groups.

In Advance

  • Ensure there is a copy of Entrance Ticket: Unit 1, Lesson 7 at each student's workspace.
  • Post the learning targets and applicable anchor charts (see Materials list).

Tech and Multimedia

  • Continue to use the technology tools recommended throughout previous modules to create anchor charts to share with families; to record students as they participate in discussions and protocols to review with students later and to share with families; and for students to listen to and annotate text, record ideas on note-catchers, and word-process writing.

Supporting English Language Learners

Supports guided in part by CA ELD Standards 7.I.A.1, 7.I.B.5, 7.I.B.6, 7.I.B.8, 7.I.C.10, 7.I.C.12, and 7.II.A.1.

Important Points in the Lesson Itself

  • To support ELLs, this lesson provides teacher-led analysis of the structure, language, and themes in the poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" by Langston Hughes. While analyzing poetry may be challenging, the teacher and peer support throughout the lesson will help ELLs successfully participate in the analysis.
  • ELLs may find it challenging to participate in the whole class shared writing of the theme paragraph. Create sentence strips from the sample response from the Analyze Poetry note-catcher (example for teacher reference). Then distribute the sentence strips to students who need the most support. They can work as a group to assemble the paragraph and use their paragraph to help the class check their shared writing response.

Vocabulary

  • Abraham Lincoln, form, New Orleans, speaker, stanza, structure, the Congo, the Euphrates, the Mississippi, the Nile (DS)

Key

(A): Academic Vocabulary

(DS): Domain-Specific Vocabulary 

Materials from Previous Lessons

Teacher

Student

  • Domain-specific word wall (one for display; from Module 1, Unit 1, Lesson 1, Work Time B)
  • Techniques anchor chart (one for display; from Module 3, Unit 1, Lesson 2, Work Time A)
  • Harlem Renaissance Themes anchor chart (one for display; from Module 3, Unit 1, Lesson 3, Closing and Assessment A) 
  • Vocabulary log (one per student; from Module 1, Unit 1, Lesson 2, Opening A)
  • One Last Word by Nikki Grimes (text; one per student; from Module 3, Unit 1, Lesson 1, Closing and Assessment A)

New Materials

Teacher

Student

  • Entrance Ticket: Unit 1, Lesson 7 (answers for teacher reference)
  • Analyze Poetry note-catcher (example for teacher reference)
  • Techniques anchor chart (example for teacher reference)
  • Harlem Renaissance Themes anchor chart (example for teacher reference) 
  • Language Dive Guide: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Lines 4 and 13 (for teacher reference)
  • Language Dive: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Lines 4 and 13 Sentence Chunk Chart (for teacher reference)
  • Language Dive: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Lines 4 and 13 note-catcher (example for teacher reference)
  • Homework: Synthesis Questions: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" (answers for teacher reference) (see Homework Resources)
  • Entrance Ticket: Unit 1, Lesson 7 (one per student)
  • Analyze Poetry note-catcher (one per student)
  • Analyze Poetry note-catcher ▲
  • Language Dive: “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” Lines 4 and 13 sentence chunk strips (one per pair of students)
  • Language Dive: “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” Lines 4 and 13 note-catcher (one per student)
  • Homework: Synthesis Questions: “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” (one per student; see Homework Resources)

Assessment

Each unit in the 6-8 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize students' understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

Opening

OpeningLevels of Support

A. Engage the Learner - L.7.4 (5 minutes)

  • Repeated routine: Students respond to questions on Entrance Ticket: Unit 1, Lesson 7.
  • Once students have completed their entrance tickets, use a total participation technique to review their responses. Add New Orleans, Abraham Lincoln, the Nile, the Euphrates, the Mississippi, the Congo to the domain-specific word wall with translations in home languages where appropriate, and invite students to add the words to their vocabulary logs. Explain to students that they will discuss these allusions further in the following activities.
  • Repeated routine: Follow the same routine as with the previous lessons to review learning targets and the purpose of the lesson, reminding students of any learning targets that are similar or the same as in previous lessons.

For Lighter Support

  • Encourage students to grapple with Entrance Ticket: Unit 1, Lesson 7 before using a dictionary to support their work. Also, students may need or have additional background knowledge about the places and people in the entrance ticket. During the class sharing, invite students to share their knowledge of any of the places or people.

For Heavier Support

  • Students may be overwhelmed with the unfamiliar language on Entrance Ticket: Unit 1, Lesson 7. As necessary, read the definitions aloud and allow students to work in pairs. Also, students may need or have additional background knowledge about the places and people in the entrance ticket. During the class sharing, invite students to share their knowledge of any of the places or people.

Work Time

Work TimeLevels of Support

A. Read and Analyze Structure: “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” – RL.7.5 (20 minutes)

  • Review appropriate learning target relevant to the work to be completed in this section of the lesson:

“I can analyze how the structure of ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’ contributes to its meaning.”

  • Inform students that in this lesson and the next two that follow they will be practicing their poetry analysis skills, reading works from the Harlem Renaissance to understand how poets craft their work to provide meaning and develop themes.
  • Ask students to retrieve their copies of the anchor text, One Last Word, and open to the poem on page 65, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes. Explain that the term “negro” was used by both blacks and whites at the time this poem was written, but that it is now considered an outdated and offensive term and should not be used except when referring to the title of this poem. Help students understand that language often evolves over time, as we come to new understandings and perspectives.
  • Explain that students will read the poem several times through before analyzing it. Read the poem aloud, asking students to close their eyes and listen. Read the poem aloud a second time, asking students to follow along. Finally, read the poem aloud chorally as a class.
  • Distribute the Analyze Poetry note-catcher. Tell students that just as with the songs they listened to, they will be paying close attention to the figurative language that poets use to create meaning, but they will also focus on other aspects of poetry, which this note-catcher will help them with.
  • Explain the design of the note-catcher: In the first section, they will list the title of the poem and the poet’s name. After they have read or heard the poem several times, they will discuss their first impressions with a partner. Then in the first row of the chart, students will record the gist of the poem to ensure their understanding. In the next row, they will note observations on the structure of the poem as well as examples of figurative language. At the bottom of the chart, they will record a theme. On the lines below the chart, they will write a paragraph about how the poet uses structure and figurative language to develop theme. Finally, they will have space to discuss the connections to other works they’ve read in the Harlem Renaissance.
  • Read aloud the poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” again, asking students to read along chorally. Invite students to Turn and Talk to a partner about their first impressions of the poem, including the gist, what they notice, and what they wonder.
  • Tell students that a narrator of a poem, the person “speaking” the words we read, is called the “speaker.” Poems are often written in the first person, but readers don’t assume that it is necessarily the poet speaking. Since the speaker is often not identified by name, when readers discuss poetry they refer to the speaker of the poem.
  • Ask students to Think-Pair-Share:

“What is the subject of the poem?” (The poet talks about knowing different rivers through history.) 

  • Ask students to Think-Pair-Share about what else they notice about how the poem is written.

“Is there anything notable about how the lines are arranged or how the lines relate to each other?” (Most of the lines are grouped together. Some of them are indented. Two lines are set apart, and the last line is by itself.)

  • Ask students to Turn and Talk to discuss what they already know about the ways poets structure their poems, including any lines that are grouped together.
  • Confirm for students that the lines grouped together in a poem are called a stanza. Sometimes the lines rhyme, and sometimes they don’t, but organizing lines into stanzas usually helps to develop a larger thought, much in the way that paragraphs work in stories or informational articles. The way the poet chooses to arrange lines in the poem—including whether and how they rhyme, if certain lines repeat, and whether they’re grouped into stanzas—is called the poem’s structure. Explain to students that poets have many ways to structure a text in terms of stanzas or using rhyming lines. In addition, how the poet arranges the ideas within a stanza is a part of structure. All of these aspects of structure help poets develop the meaning and theme of a poem in the same way that writers of stories and informational texts use structure to develop their texts. 
  • Inform students that there are also common forms that poetry can take, and these include specific kinds of structures, such as using a certain number of lines or a specific rhyme scheme. Tell students they will encounter these specific forms later in the unit and learn some of their names, but the important thing about structure is understanding that the poet’s choices about lines and stanzas and the order of the ideas contribute to meaning and often help develop a theme in the text. Record stanza, structure, and form on the domain-specific word wall and encourage students to record the words in their vocabulary logs.
  • Tell students that in this lesson they will examine how structure works and that they will use this knowledge in the rest of the unit. Display the Techniques anchor chart and add stanza (structure) to the chart. See the Techniques anchor chart (example for teacher reference) as needed.
  • Invite students to retrieve their entrance tickets. Confirm for students that these allusions are to different rivers and events throughout history and that each has a meaning that adds to the poem, which they will examine more closely as they read. Confirm that the Euphrates is a river in the Middle East and home to an area called the “fertile crescent,” where some of the earliest evidence of human civilization has been found. The Congo and Nile are both important rivers in Africa, with the Nile running through Egypt, where the ancient pyramids were built. Finally, the allusions to the Mississippi River, Abe Lincoln, and New Orleans refer to places and events in America. The Mississippi was often used to transport slaves; New Orleans, through which the river flows, was a major hub where slaves were bought and sold; Abe Lincoln ended slavery in 1863’s Emancipation Proclamation.
  • Tell students that first they will examine how the poem is structured. Then they will look more closely at the meaning of the figurative language and allusions to see how the author develops a theme in the poem.
  • Ask students to Think-Pair-Share: 

“What do you notice about the structure of first three lines of the poem?” (The second line repeats the first line—“I’ve known rivers”—and describes the rivers in more detail.)

“How does the repetition in the first stanza help develop meaning in the poem?” (By repeating “I” to begin the lines, the speaker connects himself to the rivers and to human history.)

“What time period is associated with each river?” Encourage students to use the background knowledge and their responses to the entrance ticket to help them identify the time periods. (Euphrates: the beginning of time or “when the dawns were young”; Congo (huts): early history; Nile (pyramids): ancient history; Mississippi (emancipation): 1863)

“How does the poet organize the poem?” (from ancient times to more modern history)

“How are these events all connected with black people?” Guide students in understanding the chronological structure of the poem and the historical significance of each of the rivers mentioned:

    • The Euphrates was considered the “cradle of civilization” (“dawns were young”). The poet is reminding the reader that black people were part of the earliest civilization.
    • The Congo is a river in Africa where black people lived a simple life in villages (“built my huts”) as free people.
    • The Nile is the river that generated an advanced civilization of ancient Egypt. The pyramids, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, were built by slaves, including black slaves.
    • The Mississippi is the river in America that black people experienced as slaves. Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, delivered the Emancipation Proclamation which freed the slaves.
  • From the perspective of the poet, speaking broadly for black people, the structure of this stanza helps the reader travel from the earliest civilization and freedom, through slavery, and finally back to freedom.
  • Invite students to record the gist of the first, main stanza of the poem in the gist section on their note-catchers. For sample responses, consult the Analyze Poetry note-catcher (example for teacher reference).
  • Ask students to Turn and Talk with their partners about what they notice about the final, shorter two stanzas and how their structure helps develop meaning in the text. (The final two stanzas repeat, in part, lines from earlier in the text. This helps to reiterate the author’s point and make the meaning of the poem clearer.)
  • Invite students to record these notes in the “Structure” section of their note-catchers. For sample responses, consult the Analyze Poetry note-catcher (example for teacher reference).
  • Repeated routine: Invite students to reflect on their progress toward the relevant learning target.

For Lighter Support

  • In Work Time A and B, students may need additional time to understand the poetry terms. After introducing each term, allow a moment for students to Turn and Talk with a partner to explain the term in their own words and give additional examples. This oral processing confirms student comprehension and improves speaking and listening skills.

For Heavier Support

  • In Work Time A and B, students may struggle with the meaning of the poem itself and the new vocabulary about poetry. To encourage comprehension of the poem, allow several minutes before analysis for students to highlight key words (such as the places and people from the entrance ticket) and to illustrate the poem in the margins or on sticky notes. To encourage comprehension of poetry terms, display the Techniques anchor chart at the beginning of the work time and record each term as it is introduced. Also, record examples from “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” on the anchor chart to support student comprehension.
  • Also in Work Time A and B, encourage students to use the Analyze Poetry note-catcher , which is a generic note-catcher that students can use throughout this unit. This resource supports student writing and comprehension with sentence frames.

B. Read and Analyze Language and Theme: “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” – RL.7.2, RL.7.4 (10 minutes)

  • Review appropriate learning target relevant to the work to be completed in this section of the lesson:

“I can determine the meaning of figurative language in ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers.’”

“I can identify a theme and explain how it develops over the course of ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers.’”

  • Inform students that now they will look more closely at the figurative language in the poem and how it is developing a theme in the text. First ask students if they can identify an emerging theme in the text so far. (People are connected to their pasts; people are connected to nature.) 
  • Confirm for students that they are developing an understanding of the meaning of the poem and are ready to look more closely to see how that language adds to the meaning of the text and helps develop a theme.
  • Ask students to Think-Pair-Share with partners or in small groups about the following questions:

“Consider the title of the poem. Recall that ‘negro’ means black person. What is the significance of the words ‘the Negro’ instead of ‘a Negro’ in the title? Who is the speaker in the poem? Is it one person or many people?” (The words “the Negro” suggest that the speaker represents all black people.)

“How does the fourth line further develop the comparison between the speaker and the rivers?” (It compares his soul to the depth of the rivers. It suggests that his soul is as deep as the rivers.) “What do you think it might mean to have a ‘soul as deep as the rivers’?” (The speaker is suggesting that black people are connected to a long and painful, but rich history, from ancient times to the present.)

“Based on your knowledge of the Euphrates as the place where some of the earliest civilizations were found, how does the phrase ‘when dawns were young’ contribute to the meaning of the poem?” (The speaker was at the Euphrates when the world was still new, or dawns were just beginning. The poet seems to remind the reader that black people were a part of the beginning of civilization, something to be proud of.)

“Why does the poet allude to the pyramids built along the Nile?” (Black people, now as slaves, were among those who built the pyramids. This is a little more complicated—on the one hand, black people were slaves, which is painful, while on the other hand these very slaves created an amazing and enduring structure.) 

“Based on your knowledge of the Mississippi, New Orleans, and Abe Lincoln with regard to slavery in the United States, why might the poet hear singing at this river? How does the phrase describing how the river ‘turn[ed] all golden in the sunset’ help develop this?” (The speaker may hear “singing” because Abe Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves. The phrase “turn all golden in the sunset” may also develop the beauty of the river and of the moment when the slaves were freed and what this might mean for black people in the poet’s time, half a century after the end of slavery. “Muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset” suggests, in spite of the pain of slavery, a positive turn in the history of black people.)

“What do the historical allusions in the poem suggest about history?” (Black people were present since the beginning of time and at important places and events throughout history. Broadly, they have gone from freedom, to slavery, and now back to freedom)

“Now that you’ve analyzed the whole poem, how do the repetitions in the last lines help develop a theme in the poem?” (The speaker reiterates that he is connected to the rivers. In saying his “soul has grown deep like the rivers,” he suggests that the events mentioned have shaped him. This develops a theme that black people have a long, significant, painful, and rich history that continues into the present. Like the rivers, they will endure and triumph.)

  • Invite students to record their responses in the “Language” sections of their note-catchers. For sample responses, consult the Analyze Poetry note-catcher (example for teacher reference).
  • Inform students that as a class they will now write a paragraph explaining how the poet uses structure and figurative language to develop a theme in “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” 
  • Direct students’ attention to the “Putting It All Together” prompt on their note-catchers. Ask students to Turn and Talk:

“What should go in a paragraph explaining how an author develops a theme in a poem? How is this information similar to and different from explaining how an author develops a theme in a story?” (For both a story and a poem, the paragraph should include information about what the poem is about. It should also include a statement of the theme and an explanation of how it is developed. The difference would be in discussing how the author of a story develops themes, because poets and story writers use different techniques. Poets focus mainly on figurative language and structure to develop themes. Story writers also use figurative language and structure, but they also use characterization, plot, description, and other elements to develop a theme.)

  • If students need additional support answering these questions, ask:

“How do writers develop themes in stories? How do poets develop themes in poems?”

“What kind of information would you include to support your interpretation of a theme in the poem ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’?” (We would need to include references to how the author uses structure as well as quotes that include the figurative language in the text. We would also need to include explanations of how this figurative language develops a theme.)

  • Guide students as a class in writing a paragraph explaining how an author uses structure and language to develop a theme in the text on the lines provided on their note-catchers. For sample responses, consult the Analyze Poetry note-catcher (example for teacher reference).
  • Display the Harlem Renaissance Themes anchor chart. Record the theme and evidence from the paragraph on to the anchor chart. For possible responses, see the Harlem Renaissance Themes anchor chart (example for teacher reference).

For Lighter Support

  • In Work Time A and B, students may need additional time to understand the poetry terms. After introducing each term, allow a moment for students to Turn and Talk with a partner to explain the term in their own words and give additional examples. This oral processing confirms student comprehension and improves speaking and listening skills.

For Heavier Support

  • In Work Time A and B, students may struggle with the meaning of the poem itself and the new vocabulary about poetry. To encourage comprehension of the poem, allow several minutes before analysis for students to highlight key words (such as the places and people from the entrance ticket) and to illustrate the poem in the margins or on sticky notes. To encourage comprehension of poetry terms, display the Techniques anchor chart at the beginning of the work time and record each term as it is introduced. Also, record examples from “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” on the anchor chart to support student comprehension.
  • Also in Work Time A and B, encourage students to use the Analyze Poetry note-catcher , which is a generic note-catcher that students can use throughout this unit. This resource supports student writing and comprehension with sentence frames.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingLevels of Support

A. Language Dive: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Lines 4 and 13 - RL.7.2, RL.7.4, L.7.5 (10 minutes) 

  • Repeated routine: Follow the same routine as with the previous lessons to facilitate a Language Dive with the following reflection sentence from the text:

"My soul has grown deep like the rivers."

  • Use the accompanying materials to facilitate the Language Dive:
    • Language Dive Guide: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Lines 4 and 13 (for teacher reference)
    • Language Dive: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Lines 4 and 13 Sentence Chunk Chart (for teacher reference)
    • Language Dive: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Lines 4 and 13 sentence chunk strips
    • Language Dive: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Lines 4 and 13 note-catcher (example for teacher reference)
    • Language Dive: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Lines 4 and 13 note-catcher
  • Before leaving class, ensure that students have their copies of One Last Word to complete their homework.
  • Invite students to reflect on the habits of character focus in this lesson, discussing what went well and what could be improved next time.

For Lighter Support

  • During the Language Dive of Work Time C, students analyze the use of figurative language. Invite ELLs to remind their classmates who need heavier support what figurative language is and how to interpret it. (Figurative language has another meaning besides what the words mean literally or in the dictionary. To interpret it, describe the concrete or familiar object to better understand what the writer is saying about the abstract or unfamiliar object.) Encourage students to identify other examples of figurative language in "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and work in pairs to interpret these examples. They can share their ideas with classmates who need heavier support. Additional practice in identifying, interpreting, and explaining figurative language will improve students' analysis, speaking, and listening skills.
  • The Language Dive also addresses the present perfect tense. If time allows, after Work Time C, challenge students to review with a partner what the present perfect tense shows (happened in the past over a period of time). Then ask students to identify other examples of the present perfect tense in "The Negro Speaks of Rivers." ("I've known," "I've seen" "has grown") For each example, they can tell what has happened in the past over a period of time.

For Heavier Support

  • During the Language Dive of Work Time C, some students may need additional support as they complete the sentence frame in the Practice section (I stand where _____). Ask students to work together to generate a list of common objects that are happy or hopeful (sun, laughter, smiles, blue sky, warm rain, growing trees, etc.). As necessary, model using a student-generated idea to complete the sentence frame: "I stand where trees grow tall and strong."

Homework

Homework

A. Synthesis Questions: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"

  • In preparation for the end of unit assessment, students complete Homework: Synthesis Questions: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers."

B. Independent Research Reading

  • Students read for at least 20 minutes in their independent research reading text. Then they select a prompt and write a response in their independent reading journal.

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