Choices We Make, a Poetry Lesson

“Let us go singing as far as we go: the road will be less tedious.”

Virgil

th-6

Choices are important in our lives. Sometimes there are times we regret, there are times we pray for what we’ve chosen.

I have a group of mixed-ability students in grade 11 studying mostly languages. Some of them are not happy because that was not what they actually wanted but that was the only option to take.

I had a very disappointing lesson the other day and when I arrived home I thought what I could do for them to realize or do something for themselves until the next fork appears on the road they had chosen. And I decided to go to the class with a poem. Yes, I chose The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost as I thought with a little help, they would be able to understand the poem and we’d be able to talk about our decisions. To sum up, it was a great lesson. We all enjoyed it and I think they also revised their decisions or their attitudes towards their choices.

Now I’d like to tell you how I planned the lesson. First of all I found some very valuable lesson ideas on the poem and took some inspiration from them and I prepared one suitable for my students.

First I asked what the word ‘road’ meant. Then I asked what it could be used as a metaphor. We looked at the picture I chose as a warm up. ( If you search Google/Yahoo images as “Two Roads”, you’ll get some pictures of the woods that come to a fork)

The students described the picture and then I asked them what they would do if they were in this picture, how they would feel, how they would decide. The best part of the lesson was actually here and I hadn’t predicted that while preparing it. They talked about how they would be both nervous and excited. We talked about what they could encounter on the road, where these roads might take them.

Then we brainstormed words/ideas related with roads. I chose a recording of the poem on YouTube and told students to listen and jot down any words or phrases they heard/caught/liked.

After listening to the poem twice, I gave them the handouts and told them to read the poem and find if the words they had heard were really in the poem. Then we discussed the poem. We talked about if the poet was happy with his choice, if the poem was sad or happy or hopeful. Now I’m waiting for their bookmarks on the poem. They’ll use the ideas from here.

wordle created with AnswerGarden
wordle created with AnswerGarden

Tagxedo link of AnswerGarden words/phrases

Variations with ‘go and open the door’

 

 

 

 

 

The original activity is described here and the poem ‘Go and Open the Door’ by Miroslav Holub is here. This is a very powerful poem and I think it will work really well with teenagers and adults on the first week of the term.

Here is a variation with the poem for the new comers.

Materials needed

Music

The poem

A big poster of a classroom door (or any other door)

Introduce some vocabulary if you think they will cause problems when you read the poem.

Tell them you will read a poem, they can close their eyes if they want.

Before you begin reading the poem, play a relaxing

Tell them they are about to open the door of their new classroom. They don’t know what they will find there. First focus on the followings:

What are their expectations?

Why are they in this class?

How will they improve themselves?

What are their expectations from their teachers?

When and how will they have fun?

Stop the music and read the poem.

Tell them to open the door of the classroom and step in, meet the people, the teacher and find a seat. Now tell them to open their eyes and jot down the things they thought.

Ask the volunteers to share their ideas.

Give them post-it notes and ask them to write what they’ve found when they opened their classroom door.

Stick the door poster on the wall.

Get students’ post-it notes and stick on the door.