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.

Poetry Writing ROW Lesson

Adopt-a-Tree, Poetry Writing

Overview/Rationale for Lesson: Children revisit their adopted trees and write poems informed by close observation and inspired by listening to poems that explore trees from different perspectives.  Focusing questions include: “What’s special about your tree?  How does your tree talk to you? What gifts do trees give? Grade Level: 3 to 5 PRINT LESSON Developed by Ann Gengarelly, Poet in Residence, Marlboro Elementary School, Marlboro, VT and used in Grades 3 and 4 Community Partner:  The Poetry Studio, Marlboro, VT Learning Objectives: Children will listen to tree poems and respond to sensory images, figurative language and poetic voices. Children will write a poem informed by observation of their tree and inspired by poetic elements from the poetry reading. Children will share and respond to each other’s tree poems. Children will develop an intimate relationship with a tree and thereby care more about its natural environment. Lesson Plan Procedure: Preparatory Activity Time: 5-10 minutes Step 1. Gather children in a circle outdoors near their adopted trees and start a discussion about trees.  Share the plan for today’s poetry session.  Note: Ann Gengarelly's notes on this lesson will help you prepare for discussion.  5 minutes. Teacher narrative:  “I understand that you have each chosen a tree you have become friends with.  How did you choose which tree you wanted?” Preview what children will be doing during poetry session:  Listen to tree poems; write a poem at your tree; and share tree poems. Main Activity Time:  60 minutes Step 2.  Introduce poetry reading and give children questions to think about while they listen to poems.  5 minutes. Teacher narrative includes questions:  “What’s special about trees? What’s special about your tree? What gifts do trees give?” 

Incredible Insects!

Overview/Rationale for Lesson: Children write and illustrate diamante poems to recall what they observed on a fall field trip to observe insects at Northfield Mountain. PRINT LESSON Grade Level:  K to 2 Developed by Susan Pelis, Sheffield Elementary School, Turners Falls, MA, and used in Grade 1 Community Partner: Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center Learning Objective(s): Children will write a diamante poem and draw an illustration, including details of things they saw, heard and touched on their field trip. Children will experience insects first hand and hone their observation skills in an outdoor setting. Lesson Plan Procedure: Preparatory Activity: Step 1. Pre-trip discussion.  10 minutes. Ask children to predict, “What do you think you’ll see at Northfield Mountain?” List responses on chart paper. Step. 2. Class Trip to Northfield Mountain. From 2 hours to 1/2 Day. Children participate in a facilitated session on “Incredible Insects” conducted on the edge of a meadow.  Children look at insects through hand lenses and draw a sketch.  Optional extra time for lunch and walk in the forest. Main Activity: Time:  70 minutes (steps may be split into 2-3 writing periods). Step 3. Make a Community List:  “What We Saw, Heard, Felt.”  15 minutes. Children generate a list of things they saw, heard and felt during a group discussion. Teacher records comments on chart paper.  If available, photos from the trip help to stimulate conversation and spark interest.  See a sample Community List. Step 4. Each child completes a pre-writing activity: “I saw, I heard, I felt” (handout downloadable from Materials Checklist). 10 minutes.  Children use the template to draw pictures and list items they saw, heard, and felt.  See Student Sample. Step 5. Model how to write

CT River Holyoke

River Sounds, Dinosaur Footprints

Overview/Rationale Students prepare to write poems about a field trip to the river by practicing outdoor listening and performing choral readings of river poems from River of Words: Young Poets and Artists on the Nature of Things. PRINT LESSON Grade Level:  3-5 Developed by Carol Berner & Lori Thayer, E.N. White School, Holyoke, MA,  and used in Grade 4 Community Partner:  Dinosaur Footprints Reservation, The Trustees of Reservations Learning Objectives Children will listen closely to sounds outdoors and record their findings on a Sound Map. Children will read and respond to poems about rivers, paying attention to poetic elements of  rhythm, repetition and sensory images. Children will plan and present dramatic readings of river poems. Lesson Plan Procedure: Preparatory Activity Time:  30 minutes Step 1. Introduce the activity of listening outside and model how to use aSound Map (downloadable from Materials Checklist).  15 minutes. Teacher’s narrative:  “You will be going to the river to catch a poem and you will need some tools to help you fish for poems:  tools for paying attention and tools for recording what you notice.  The tools you will use include looking, listening and imagining.” Model how to use theSound Mapping Handout. Prepare a large Sound Map on chart paper and demonstrate how to use it by telling a story about listening to outdoor sounds. Write a symbol (word or sketch) for each sound on the Sound Map as you tell the story.  For example: “Yesterday I was sitting in my back yard and I heard…” Indicate whether sounds are close by or far away, loud or soft, moving or stationary, etc. Optional:  Share an example of a poem you wrote from your Sound Map: “Lawnmower

girl by water

Vernal Pool Poetry

Overview/Rationale for Lesson: Students record sensory observations during a guided nature walk and use this data to create poetry and watercolor paintings documenting their discoveries. PRINT LESSON Grade Level:  K to 2 Developed by Beth Brady and Carol Berner, R.K. Finn/Ryan Road School, Florence, MA, and used in Grade 2 Community Partner: Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Amherst, MA Learning Objective(s): Students will learn to collect and record sensory data during a nature walk (I See, I Hear, I Smell, I Touch/Feel). Students will write a short poem or journal entry and make a watercolor painting based on field trip observations. Students will learn to look closely and ask questions about creatures and elements they discover on the forest walk. Lesson Plan Procedure Preparatory Activity: Time:  15 minutes plus outdoor nature walk Step 1.  During circle time students read and discuss the poem “Polliwogs” by Kristine O’Connell George.  15 minutes.  Note:  This activity may take place 1-2 days before nature walk. Write poem “Polliwogs” on chart paper and post it in circle area. Lead a pre-trip discussion about upcoming nature walk and ask children, “ What do you think you will find at the vernal pool?” Read aloud “Polliwogs” and invite children to take turns reading it aloud. Ask children, “What do you notice about the poem?” Lead discussion based on children’s observations about the poem’s shape, use of describing words, comparisons, etc. Tell children they will be writing their own poems after their trip to the vernal pool. Step 2.  Children go on a nature walk and record on a handout things that they see, hear, smell and touch.  (Download Student Handout from Materials Checklist.) 1-2 hours. During pre-trip discussion,

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