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Writing About The Holocaust, Writing Poetry


Language Arts, Social Studies  



Title – Writing About The Holocaust, Writing Poetry
By – Kristy Brooten
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Social Studies
Grade Level – 6
Writing About The Holocaust Thematic Unit Contents:

Lesson Plan 3

Grade level: 6
Concept being taught: Writing poetry

I. Objectives
TSWBAT write a poem describing a concentration camp

II. Materials
“At Terezin” overhead, “Terezin” overhead

III. Detailed Lesson Outline
A. Motivation
          Write “concentration camp” on board. Think about the research you’ve done and the stories we’ve read about the Holocaust. What words or phrases can we use to describe a concentration camp? Under “concentration camp,” write students’ words and phrases. What did it look like? What did the people look like? How did it feel to be trapped inside? What do you think it smelled like? What were the people there thinking about? What kind of sounds did they hear? (Have students write down these descriptions in their Holocaust journals)

B. Input
          Put up “At Terezin” on overhead. A child named Teddy who was trapped in a concentration camp called Terezin (in Czechoslovakia) wrote this to describe what it was like inside that concentration camp. Let’s read it and see how close our descriptions are. Read poem. What did he describe that we described? What did he describe that we didn’t? In our stories about the Holocaust, some of us described what it was like in a concentration camp. What was different about those descriptions and Teddy’s? How did the sentences look in our stories? How is that different from the way Teddy writes? Do you think Teddy’s writing form is a narrative or something else? Let’s compare these two forms. Make two lists on board, “narrative” and “poetry.” What do we need in a narrative/story? Come up to the board and write what you remember about the elements of a story. Read list. What about Teddy’s poem? What can we observe about poetry that’s different from a story? Write down students’ suggestions under “poetry.” Does he use full sentences? Are there distinct characters? Is there a plot? Does he use dialogue? Description? He does use description – what kind of things does he describe? As students point them out, underline descriptions on overhead. Does he describe what he saw? What he heard? What he smelled? What he felt? What he tasted? If he describes how he sees, smells, feels, tastes and hears, what can we say about descriptions in a poem? (Appeal to senses.) What does appealing to the senses accomplish in a poem? Are you just reading about something or do you feel like you’re really there?
          Let’s read another poem to see what kind of descriptions we can find. Put up “Terezin” overhead and read poem aloud. Talk to your tablemates and write down what kind of descriptions you see. What else can you observe about this poem that wasn’t in Teddy’s poem? Share ideas with class. Add new ideas to “poetry” list. What did you observe about the beginning and the end of the poem? Why might we use repeated phrases like this in a poem? Write “repeated phrases” under “poetry.” Read the line “cannons don’t scream and the guns don’t bark” – do cannons really scream? What do you call this, when we write about inanimate objects taking on characteristics of a person? Write “personification” on board. What do you think she means when she says, “like standing above a swamp from which any moment might gush forth a spring”? Was she really standing above a swamp? How do you know? (She uses the word “like”) What kind of a comparison is this? Write “comparisons: similes and metaphors” under “poetry.” Do you think we need all of these thing we wrote down to have a poem? Did Teddy use them all? Did Mif use them all? We can write a poem using some or all of these things.

C. Closure
Let’s go back to our descriptions of a concentration camp. In your groups, review them. What else could you use to make these descriptions into a poem (refer to list)? Jot down your ideas for your own poem in your Holocaust Journals. Walk around groups: what are your ideas? How are you appealing to the senses? Are you using personification, any comparisons, etc.? Share ideas with class and have students add new ideas to “concentration camp” list on board. If you hear ideas you would like to use in your poem, write them down in your journal.

D. Evaluation
          Take your ideas now and form them into a first draft of your poem in your journal. You may refer back to the two poems we read about Terezin (or other poems from …I never saw another butterfly… if you like.
          Give students time to begin writing. To evaluate objective, walk around and ask students to share their ideas with you, looking for description appealing to senses, repeated phrases, personification, and/or comparisons.

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