Formerly the CT River Watershed Council|
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Emily Dickinson, Close Reading

Overview/Rationale for Lesson: Students take dictations of two different versions of an Emily Dickinson poem, using the sensory experience of scribing the poems as a basis for engaging in textual observation, close reading and interpretive discussion. PRINT LESSON Grade Level:  9 to 12 Developed by Suzanne Strauss, Northampton High School, Northampton, MA, used in Grades 9-12 Community Partners: Emily Dickinson Museum & Northampton Education Foundation Learning Objective(s): Students will write from dictation two versions of an Emily Dickinson poem. Students will observe and discuss what they notice in the text, including punctuation, capitalization, diction and word placement. Students will compare and contrast two versions of a poem through partner discussion, a graphic organizer and a written essay. Lesson Plan Procedure: Preparatory Activity: Time:  10 minutes Step 1. Ask students what they already know about Emily Dickinson and write their comments on board or chart paper. 10 minutes. Teacher’s Note:  Students knew quite a bit about her, including her reclusiveness, sense of humor and prominent family.  All these elements appear in, “I’m Nobody.” Main Activity: Time:  60-75 minutes Step 2.  Dictate two versions of “I’m Nobody” (downloadable from Materials Checklist).  20-30 minutes. Introduce the dictation activity. Teacher’s narrative: “I tell them to take out their journals and get ready to write on one page leaving the facing page blank for the next dictation. I talk a little about how Emily Dickinson’s poems did not have titles and show them the Franklin edition and ask them to figure out how long it would take them to read all the poems if they read one a day.” Dictate original version of, “I’m Nobody,” including all text symbols   (capitals, punctuation, line breaks, etc.). Note:

children in garden

Emily Dickinson, Writing Nature Poems

Overview/Rationale for Lesson: High school students and elementary school students meet in a garden to read an Emily Dickinson poem about nature and write their own poems inspired by her model and informed by direct sensory observations. PRINT VERSION Grade Level:  3 to 5, 9 to 12 Developed by Suzanne Strauss & Susan Ebitz, Northampton High School & Jackson Street School, Northampton, MA, and used in Grade 4 and High School Community Partners: Emily Dickinson Museum & Northampton Education Foundation Learning Objective(s): Students will read and discuss nature imagery in a poem by Emily Dickinson. Students will write a poem based on direct observation and inspired by the format, imagery and graphic conventions of Dickinson’s poem. Students will make oral presentations of their poems to the group. Lesson Plan Procedure: Preparatory Activity: Time: 10 minutes (plus travel time to outdoor setting) Note:  Students meet in an outdoor setting (this lesson took place at the Rose Garden at Child’s Park in Northampton). Step 1. Introduce the nature poetry session.  5 minutes. Gather students in a circle, explain that they will be reading and writing nature poems outdoors in the garden and set guidelines and expectations. Distribute and read aloud a poem on the theme of nature written by Emily Dickinson: “This is my letter to the World”  (downloadable from Materials Checklist). 5 minutes. Main Activity: Time:  40 minutes Step 2.  Read aloud, “Nature is what We see” (downloadable from Materials Checklist), and give directions for poetry writing activity.  10 minutes. Hand out poem, writing directions (downloadable from Materials Checklist), clipboard, lined paper and pencil to each small group. Read aloud poem several times, inviting students and/or other adults to read aloud individual stanzas.

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