Poetry Analysis using Carousel

27 Jan
I used the Carousel (Lipton, L., & Wellman, B.,1998) strategy a couple of months ago in my classroom to help students analyze a poem. Students generally do not enjoy poetry and I wanted a way to make it fun for them. 
I learned this strategy from Terri Stewart, one of my professors for my grad program at SUNY IT. 

Students were given a copy of the poem ‘Harlem’ by Langston Hughes, featured here: 

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
 I prepared 4 questions that I wanted students to answer in order to analyze the poem and determine the theme or message. I wrote these questions at the top of 4 large piece of butcher paper and pasted them up in different spots on my classroom wall. 
When I did this, they were all at different spots around the room so students could rotate
When class time came, students were broken up into four groups. Every person was given a marker. It may help if you have enough markers to give everyone in the group the same color marker so you can easily monitor who writes what. 
Students actually got the theme!
Students were given about 4 minutes at each ‘station’ or piece of butcher paper to respond/answer the question regarding the poem. Then they rotated to the next station and spent 4 minutes there. They were instructed to write their own comments or respond to something somebody else had written (written conversation) Students did surprisingly well. I anticipated them just staring at the paper not knowing what to write, saying that the activity was stupid or scrawling obscenities across the paper, but none of the above happened! Maybe it’s the novelty of ‘writing on the wall’. Even the ‘bad class’ came up with insightful, original thought that to my assessment would be considered ‘poetry analysis’. 
ehh…well that’s not personification but….
The activity can be adapted and fit into any lesson for virtually any idea! I actually did this activity in 9th grade only I had issues or topics that our novel Speak would be about. Students just had to make a comment about the issues, then respond to other students’ comments. This could be used for brainstorming, finding examples for literary elements, categorizing for science or social studies, and vocabulary recall!

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