This unit begins with an activity to model the “I notice” method with Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”. For the second activity, teachers should select contemporary poems that allow for a variety of the four levels of Poetry to be thoroughly noticed. Attached is a student sample Poem Level Meter for “Let Evening Come” by Jane Kenyon, and three other poems from the Academy of American Poets are suggested. However, any poem from the Academy of American Poets website could be used effectively to teach this reading method.
By the time students have arrived in high school, they may have had some good experiences with poetry, but many may still be unsure of what poetry is or how to immerse themselves in its language. This method helps students, particularly those in grades nine and ten, return to an immersion in the language itself, which is essential to being able to read, experience, and appreciate poetry for what it is—language art.
Essential to this lesson is the idea that by focusing on the levels in poetry and initially noticing the amount of language levels, students can experience Poetry without focusing directly on what poems mean, eventually organically arriving at meaning–making on their own. This helps students avoid, as Billy Collins wrote in his “Introduction to Poetry”, “beating [the poem] with a hose/ to find out what it really means” and provides students with an authentic, mindful way of immersing themselves in the language. This method also prepares students for writing about their ideas informally or formally in later assignments.
To the teacher: Please familiarize yourself with the link on the blog, the PowerPoint introduction, the language level cards, the Poem Level Meter, and the Student Progress Tracker handouts prior to engaging in this lesson with students.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL, Key Ideas & Details, 9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL, Key Ideas & Details, 9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL, Craft and Structure, 9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL, Craft and Structure, 9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL, Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity, 9-10.10
Speaking and Listening:
CCSS. ELA-Literacy.SL, Comprehension and Collaboration, 9-12.1
Objective: Students will learn how to notice the four levels inherent in the poem, “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound.
Note: First, introduce students to the noticing method through the “Letter to Students Before We Start to Read Poems” and its corresponding PowerPoint on the S. A. Slaby Blog.
Objective: Students will use their newly learned noticing process to identify aspects/levels in multiple poems. They will practice this method until they feel comfortable with all four levels and discussing their relationships within poems (see student progress chart in supplementary documents). Students should repeat as necessary, at least four additional times in order to demonstrate they can recognize all four levels independently and then all four simultaneously.
Poem Level Meter
Student Progress Tracker
Theune, Michael. Structure & Surprise: Engaging Poetic Turns (2007). IWU Authors Bookshelf. Book 20.
Turco, Lewis Putnam. The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics Including Odd and Invented Forms. Revised and Expanded Edition. Hanover and London: UP of New England, 2012.