Context for this Lesson
Topic: Imagery and Inferencing in Poetry
Focus questions: How does the author use language to evoke imagery? How can we use our bodies to create imagery and make inferences supported by evidence from the text?
§110.15. English Language Arts and Reading, Grade 4
(4) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Poetry. Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of poetry and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. Students are expected to explain how the structural elements of poetry (e.g., rhyme, meter, stanzas, line breaks) relate to form (e.g., lyrical poetry, free verse).
(8) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Sensory Language. Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about how an author's sensory language creates imagery in literary text and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. Students are expected to identify the author's use of similes and metaphors to produce imagery.
§117.16. Theatre, Grade 4
(1) Perception. The student develops concepts about self, human relationships, and the environment, using elements of drama and conventions of theatre. The student is expected to: (B) develop body awareness and spatial perceptions, using rhythmic and expressive movement, (C) respond to sounds, music, images, and the written word, using movement
"Does anyone know what the word imagery means? Have you heard that word before?" Try to define as a group, then offer this definition: imagery means using sensory words and phrases to paint pictures in a reader’s mind so s/he can vividly imagine what is written. "Part of that definition relies on the importance of sensory words. What are sensory words? Define five senses."
"I am going to share a poem with you. I would like you to close your eyes as I read and listen for imagery that creates pictures in your mind." Read “On Stage” from Out of Dust by Karen Hesse.
From Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
When I point my fingers at the keys,
springs straight out of me.
playing notes sharp as
telling stories while the
buttery rhythms back me up
on the left.
Folks sway in the
grinning and stomping and
out of breath,
and the rest, eyes shining,
feet tapping. It’s the best
I’ve ever felt,
playing hot piano,
swinging with the Black Mesa Boys,
or on my own,
pestering the keys.
Describe: What words stuck out to you? What sensory language did you hear? What images stuck with you from the poem?
Analyze: Based on the language used, how do you think our main character feel about playing the piano? How do you know? What other emotions does this poem make you feel? Why? (List emotions for image work)
Relate: Now, I want you to think of the imagery that you heard from the poem. If we were creating a photo album of this moment, what photographs come to mind from the poet’s use of imagery?
Draw a photo album page on the board with blank “photographs,” in each blank photograph, write the title of the image.
“What words did the poet use to create those images in our heads? Were there any important images that we missed from the text (sensory words)? Is there any imagery that came to your head that the poet didn’t write, but that we could infer, or guess from the text? Why did you guess that image would have been important?”
Transition: "Now, we are going to explore how to bring these photographs to life by creating images using our bodies."
Cover the Space
"Walk around the space at your own pace. In a few seconds I am going to ask you to freeze in an individual image of the main character of our poem. We decided that this character feels (list emotion from earlier brainstorming). Think for a moment about what this emotion means to you. Please freeze in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1." While frozen split group in half, ask one half to relax. Ask observing group: “What do you see? How are they showing this emotion in their bodies?” Repeat this for the other half of the class, then have the whole group continue walking.
Two Person Image
"As you are walking think about the image of (an image that we listed earlier). What does it mean to you? What does it look like? In just a moment I am going to have you find a partner who is close to you and work together to create a two person image or tableau of what this image might look like. You will only have to the count of five to create this image. Please freeze in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1."
While frozen split group in half, ask one half to relax. Ask observing group: "What do you see? How does it relate to the image we remembered from the poem?” Repeat this for the other half of the class, then have the whole group continue walking.
Transition: "I would like to invite everyone to sit back down. Now, we’re going to bring the photos from our photo album to life with our whole group."
“I want to invite you to think about this poem and its imagery. Take a moment to think. Refer back to the ‘photo album’ we created as a class.”
Encourage students to think about what else, or who else might be in this picture. Encourage students to embody objects as well. “What’s happening backstage? What’s happening in the audience? The goal at this point is to expand the photos from our album and create the full moment in a frozen picture.” They can infer from the text other events or people who might be just outside the frame of our photograph. Take one of the photos and build the image one person at a time with up to 5 people.
While the image remains frozen, the facilitator puts a hand over one character’s head and introduces the idea of a thought bubble and asks the students in the audience: “What might this character be thinking? If they were going to put those thoughts into a line of dialogue, what might that line be?”
Describe: What did we do today?
Analyze: How did the poet’s writing inform the physical images we created? How does the use of imagery strengthen a poem?
Relate: How can the idea of imagining mental pictures help us when we read poetry?