lesson plan

Ghosts and Spirits

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"Haunted Houses" and "Unbidden" are poems about ghosts, and like all good poetry they go beyond the clichéd images to a deeper place that connects to being human. The following lessons focus primarily on "Haunted Houses." They provide diverse students access to the poem through preparatory activities to hone their perception, a collaborative way of reading the poems and analyzing them, and post-activities to help them imagine and interpret their own "ghosts." The activities are aligned to the Common Core State Standards cited below. Adding "Unbidden" to your study is a way to see if students can transfer what they have learned from reading one poem to another with a different structure and similar theme. You can look at it as a form of assessment.

In order to account for diverse learners, you should look at the activities as suggestions from which you can choose in order help all your students learn. You can choose one warm-up or several. The same is true for pre- and post-activities. Happy Halloween!


Literature Common Core Standards Addressed in These Activities

Reading, Key Ideas and Details:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy. RL.9-10.4

Writing, Text Types and Purposes:
CCSS. ELA-Literacy. W.9-10.3d

Speaking and Listening, Comprehension and Collaboration:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1c
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d


 
Studying "Haunted Houses" by William Wadsworth Longfellow

Objectives:

  1. To understand the word choices used in a poem and how they contribute to its meaning
  2. To determine the meaning of a poem through a synthesis of multiple perspectives

Pre-Activities:

Whole Class Warm-up:

  • On a piece of paper, or in their journals, ask your students to write their associations with the words “haunted” and “ghosts.”
  • Ask them to draw lines that look like the path a ghost might take, or move their hands in that kind of path.
  • What sounds do ghosts make?
  • Ask them to write words they would use to describe their lines, gestures, or sounds and add them to their list of associations
  • Call on a few students who want to share their lines, or hand gestures on the board
  • Ask some to share their sounds
  • Ask the class what they see in the students lines and gestures
  • What do they hear in the sounds?
  • Write these descriptions on the board for all to see
  • Ask for their examples of associations with the words “haunted” and “ghosts”
  • Ask students to add to their own list of words and associations from the new ones on the board

Reading the Poem:

Small group activity:

  • Ask each group to pick a recorder/reporter and a facilitator who will make sure each person in the group speaks
  • The facilitator asks
    • One person to read the poem out loud for the group
    • Another person to read the poem out loud
    • What jumps out at you in the poem? What do you see?
    • What do you hear? Are there rhymes? Are there repeating sounds?
    • What connections/associations does the poet make?
    • What connections/associations do you make to the poem?
    • What do you think the poem is about?
    • What questions do you have about the poem?
  • The recorder/reporter takes notes on what the group says and checks back with the group to make sure her notes represent what the group wants to say

After Reading the Poem

Whole class activity:

Ask each recorder/reporter to answer the following two questions:

  • What did the members of the group think the poem was about?
  • What questions do they have about the poem that they would like to pose to other members of the class

Facilitate a discussion around these two questions to develop a shared understanding of the poem. In addition, you may choose to discuss the use of internal rhyme, symbols, and the ab/ab rhyme form.


 
Studying "Unbidden" by Rae Armantrout

Objectives:

  1. To understand that free verse is another form of poetry
  2. To understand what makes a piece of writing a poem
  3. To write a poem using precise language to convey meaning

Pre-Activities:

The whole-class activity and group discussions above can serve as pre-activities for the study of "Unbidden."

Reading the Poem:

Small group activity:

  • Ask each group to pick a different recorder/reporter and a different facilitator who will make sure each person in the group speaks
  • The facilitator asks
    • One person to read the poem out loud for the group
    • Another person to read the poem out loud
    • What jumps out at you in the poem? What do you see?
    • What do you hear? Are there rhymes? Are there repeating sounds?
    • What connections/associations does the poet make?
    • What connections/associations do you make to the poem?
    • How is this poem similar to "Haunted Houses"?
    • How is it different?
    • What do you think the poem is about?
    • What questions do you have about the poem?
  • The recorder/reporter takes notes on what the group says and checks back with the group to make sure her notes represent what the group wants to say

After Reading the Poem

Whole class activity:

Ask each recorder/reporter to answer the following questions:

  • What did the members of the group think the poem was about?
  • What questions do they have about the poem that they would like to pose to other members of the class
  • How is it similar to "Haunted Houses"? How is it different?
  • What makes "Unbidden" a poem? "Haunted Houses"?
  • How do we know a piece of writing is a poem?

Facilitate a discussion around these questions to develop a shared understanding of the poems and poetry.


 

Writing Activity

After reading and analyzing the poems, ask your students to go back to their lists of associations and descriptive words to write their own poems about what the word "haunted" or "ghosts" means to them.


 

Vocabulary Words

Ask your students to list words in the poems they do not understand. These might include:

 

Impalpable
Thronged
Mortmain
Waft
Ethereal
Perturbations
Equipoise
Perpetual
Abyss
Palo verde
Unbidden