These lessons focus on poems about light and darkness:
Around the world, December is a time when light and dark are at their peak. In the northern hemisphere, the Winter Solstice gives us the shortest day of the year and the transition to longer days with more light. In the southern hemisphere, we experience the Summer Solstice with the longest day of the year transitioning to days with less light. Our poems mark these transitions, not only in their planetary manifestations, but also symbolically. As your students work with the concepts of light and dark, they, too, will understand that they can create powerful symbols.
The lessons below, aligned with the Common Core Standards, ask your students to look at light and dark in different settings, experiment with how light and dark change the mood of a place or object, then read the poems collaboratively. After reading the poems and coming to an understanding of their meanings, students will write their own poems using light and dark.
A note about lesson integration: The study of light and dark can integrate with Science lessons. You may want to alert the Science teacher on your grade team that you are thinking of teaching these poems and coordinate the timing of your lessons with hers in order to enrich assignments in both subjects.
As in other lessons, in order to reach diverse learners, you should look at the activities as suggestions from which you can choose in order to help all your students learn. You can always modify the warm-up to reach more students in your class. The same is true for pre- and post-activities.
Reading, Key Ideas, and Details
CCSS.ELA-Literacy. RL.9-10.1 and 11-12.1
Reading, Craft, and Structure
CCSS.ELA-Literacy. RL.9-10.4 and 11-12.4
Writing, Text Types, and Purposes
CCSS.ELA-Literacy. W.9-10.3d and 11-12.3d
Speaking and Listening, Comprehension, and Collaboration
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d and 11-12.1d
Whole Class Warm-Up
Small Group Work:
Ask your students to bring in a common object they think has an interesting shape. Some examples are a rock, a stapler, a pinecone, or a pair of eyeglasses. They should stay away from things that have a regular shape, such as a ball or a picture frame.
This reading activity focuses on the poems as a group. You, of course, can teach them separately, if it better meets your needs.
After Reading the Poem:
Whole Class Activity
Make sure all students have copies of all four poems. Ask each recorder/reporter to answer the following questions:
Facilitate a discussion to develop a shared set of understandings about each poem. In addition, introduce how students can create symbols, similes and metaphors from their own associations.
After reading and discussing the poems, ask your students to go back to their original list of associations with light and dark and add others from the light explorations and reading activities. Then ask them to write either a short poem about the object they brought into school for the light exploration and how the light and/or dark affects the feelings of that object or a short poem about something that happened to them and how the light and/or dark affected them. They are to use their lists of associations and feelings to help them create symbols, similes and metaphors to express what they want to say.
Ask your students to list words in the poems they do not understand. These might include: