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“Pale Blue Dot, We Will Fail You Not”: A Poetry Lesson

Created by: Dan Castrigano
Date: Jul 29, 2021
Duration: 60 minutes
Grades: 6th, 7th, 8th
Subjects: English Language Arts, Social-Emotional Learning
Keywords: inspiration, Amanda Gorman, poem, poetry, earthrise
Formats: Google Docs, Google Slides
Synopsis

This lesson introduces Amanda Gorman’s poem “Earthrise.” Students will analyze this poem, looking at different stanzas and discussing the power of rhyme. In this lesson, students will listen to the poem, analyze the poem, and write their own poem.


Step 1 - Inquire: Students watch Amanda Gorman perform her poem “Earthrise.”


Step 2 - Investigate: In groups, students analyze one stanza of “Earthrise.” They take notes and then share out their thinking with the rest of the class.


Step 3 - Inspire: Students write their own poem, drawing inspiration from “Earthrise.”


Accompanying Teaching Materials

Inquire
10 minutes

  • Teacher asks students if they have heard of Amanda Gorman, the poet who performed “The Hill We Climb” at the presidential inauguration on January 20, 2021.

  • Teacher leads a brief discussion, engaging with students who are familiar with Amanda Gorman.
  • Teacher shows "Earthrise" by Amanda Gorman.
  • Teacher leads a brief discussion on the impact of the poem “Earthrise.”
Investigate
30 minutes
  • Teacher shares the full text of “Earthrise” with students.

  • Teacher facilitates a second reading of “Earthrise.”
    • Option #1: Teacher reads “Earthrise” aloud.
    • Option #2: Teacher selects one or more students to read “Earthrise” aloud.
  • Teacher creates groups of 3-4 students. Each group will analyze one stanza of “Earthrise.”
  • Each group selects a scribe to take notes on their slide in the accompanying slideshow.
  • Students discuss their stanza and scribes take notes.
  • Each group shares out some of their thinking with the rest of the class.
Inspire
20 minutes
  • Students write their own poems, drawing inspiration from Amanda Gorman’s “Earthrise.”

  • Each student will write their own poem in their own document.
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • Amanda Gorman is a brilliant poet.

  • Students will engage in lively group discussions. This poem is abundant in deep meaning and rhyme.

Additional Prerequisites

Differentiation

  • You can select students of all abilities to read part of the poem after you have watched the video.

  • The six stanzas selected for group discussion are of various lengths. They range from 6 lines to 19 lines. You can assign weaker students to the shorter stanzas.
  • You can create groups of mixed abilities.
  • Students who like to take notes can be scribes in their groups.
  • Students may be unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary in “Earthrise.”
  • Students should use the two linked dictionaries on the resources slide to find definitions of unfamiliar words.
Standards
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Literature
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.6.5 Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Literature
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.6.7 Compare and contrast the experience of reading a story, drama, or poem to listening to or viewing an audio, video, or live version of the text, including contrasting what they "see" and "hear" when reading the text to what they perceive when they listen or watch.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Literature
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.6.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 6-8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Literature
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Literature
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.5 Analyze how a drama's or poem's form or structure (e.g., soliloquy, sonnet) contributes to its meaning
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Literature
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.7 Compare and contrast a written story, drama, or poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multimedia version, analyzing the effects of techniques unique to each medium (e.g., lighting, sound, color, or camera focus and angles in a film).
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Literature
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 6-8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Literature
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.5 Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Literature
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

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