Thursday, March 6, 2014

Circle Magic

6 of 31 Slices for the March Slice of Life Story Challenge.
It's not too late to join in and link up. Head over to Two Writing Teachers and share a slice. 

Thursdays is Socratic discussion day in my classroom. We read a variety of short texts. Students prepare for the discussion by annotating or responding to the text for the week in their journals.Then, in our circle the magic happens.

This quarter we are discussing poetry. Students use the TPCASTT organizer to support their close reading of the poem--soon they won't need the organizer though. They are internalizing the steps and spontaneously considering author's craft and connections. When students know how to get there and can reach for interpretations, they no longer need the support the organizer provides.

That point was clear to me today when a few students in third period made interesting and layered connections to Octavio Paz "The Street" and Mary Oliver's "A Letter from Home."

Katherine connected Paz's use of "nobody" to Odysseus and Polyphemus. She talked through the poem as if the speaker was Polyphemus--an interesting interpretation based on her reading history. She also took a mythological approach to Mary Oliver's "A Letter from Home" by reading the piece as a letter between Demeter and Persephone. She was able to cite evidence from the texts to support her interpretations: Persephone's year has been "broken" and now she spends winter months after the "Harvest moon" and "as the frost comes" away from her mother who represents the harvest (herbs and melons gathered in the poem). While I may not read the poems the way that Katherine did, it is obvious to me she's on her way to understanding analysis. She's approximating and reaching into her experience for what makes sense and adds meaning.

Katherine's preparation for discussion; she completed this at home.


  1. Oh wow this is great. I was part of a "deeper thinking/common core/more than answering questions" discussion today. This is JUST EXACTLY what we were talking about. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love seeing great examples of students doing amazing work. Can't wait to share this with some other teachers. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I still remember having to analyze some poetry in high school, and completing a research report about one poet, and I loved doing it. That teacher changed my reading life, and I think you are doing that too, Lee Ann. Thanks for sharing such specific detail.