Monday, April 2, 2018

2018 Poem #19 -- Student-Led Observation and Conversation

by Rose Birkhead

Hanging Fire by Audre Lorde is a perfect fit for a fourteen-year-old adolescent student!

On the day I shared this poem with my students, I rearranged the desks to form a circle. The students knew from the beginning of class that today was going to be different, and it brought a new energy to the classroom. I highly recommend rearranging the furniture to promote conversation!

I used the text rendering experience to work through this poem, and also had students write a short comment to connect with the poem, an idea in their head, or an emotion on their heart, the Book-Head-Heart from Kylene Beers & Robert Probst.

First, I read the poem aloud to the students and had the students close their eyes, or put their heads down so they could take in the poem. On second read, I passed around copies of the poem for each student, and displayed it on the board. During the second read, I asked students to underline a sentence that stuck out to them. I read the poem aloud again, and asked them to box a phrase. Finally, I had the students read the poem to themselves, and asked them to circle one word that stood out to them. We shared our sentences, phrases, and words in the traditional text rendering protocol; then I had the students have a full class discussion about the poem for five minutes. After the discussion, students wrote down a new learning from the whole class discussion.

This activity probably takes 15 minutes. The poem has so many layers of meaning, and I was impressed with how the text rendering helped students naturally make connections with the poem. During our whole-group conversation, I held back my thoughts and let the students run the conversation. Their discussion was rich and powerful. The short write after the conversation allowed students to go back and see how/if their thinking changed, and their writing was expressive and personal. Enjoy this age-appropriate poem about being an adolescent.

Further Reading:

Rose Birkhead is a Reading Specialist in Holland, PA. She teaches 7th and 8th grade literacy classes and strives to create a positive learning environment where her students feel successful on a daily basis.

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