Short Subjects and clips of videos, movies and film can often provide a visual experience that advances educational goals.
Possible Problems with the Film Clips: None. The movie is rated PG-13 for "thematic material, language and some sexual content." None of the scenes that are referred to in the justification for the MPAA rating appear in the snippet.
What about showing the whole movie? TWM does not recommend showing the entire film in class because the movie is long and the educational value is limited to the use of poetry. Showing only the snippets seems to be the best use of class time.
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Analysis and Explication of Poetry
Using Clips from "In Her Shoes"
Ages: 14+; High School level
Length: Snippet: Three clips from the movie totaling ten minutes; Lesson: two 45 - 55 minute class periods plus time to write the concluding essay.
Excerpts from the Complete Snippet Lesson Plan
Learner Outcomes/Objectives: Students will learn to use the Say, Mean, Matter method of poetry analysis and practice their explication skills in a formal essay. They will become familiar with poems written by Elizabeth Bishop, "One Art", Jane Kenyan, "Let Evening Come", and e. e. cummings, "i carry your heart with me."
Rationale: Language arts standards require students to be able to interpret poetry. Snippets from these poems can be used to teach and exercise this skill. Poetry recited in a film not only has a context, it has sound; poetry in a film can serve to communicate meaning with more clarity than words on a page. Students are inclined to pay attention to recitations of poetry done by popular actors or actresses.
Description of the Film Clips: In a story about the conflicts faced by two very different sisters, poetry is used to illustrate how confidence can help heal relationships. The pretty, free-spirited sister is dyslexic and has suffered from her inability to read. The plain, educated siste¤r has suffered from having to care for her younger sister as well as from her expectation that things will go wrong. The poems help the younger sister learn to read and help the sisters regain the love they shared as children before circumstances and their differences between drew them apart. The first clip shows the dyslexic sister learning to read a poem; the second shows her reading another poem and the third clip shows her reciting a poem at her sister's wedding. Each poem has important contextual meaning.
USING THE FILM CLIPS IN THE CLASSROOM
1. Review the Snippet and to make sure it is suitable for the class. Review the Lesson Plan and decide how to present it to students, making any necessary modifications.
2. Become familiar with the location of the clips on the DVD. Cue the DVD to the first clip of the snippet, DVD scene 17. The final clip starts three minutes into DVD Scene 26. What occurs in these three minutes is not relevant to the presentation of the poem and may confuse students. This might be a good place to turn the sound down and prepare the class for the upcoming poem.
3. Photocopy the three poems used in the film. They can be found on the Internet at "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop, "Let Evening Come" by Jane Kenyon, and i carry your heart with me by e. e. cummings.
4. To prepare to present the lesson information on the process of Say, Mean, Matter, an effective tool for students to use when they analyze poetry as follows.
Step by Step
1. Developing a Definition of Poetry -- Engage students in creating a definition of poetry upon which the class can agree. The students must be turned away from the notion that poetry is whatever you want it to be. A definition of poetry should include the following:
Poetry is art, meaning that its intention is to appeal to the aesthetic sense.
2. Introduce the Say, Mean, Matter Method of Poetry Analysis - There are many effective methods available to help students interpret the meaning of poems. The technique referred to as Say, Mean, Matter is especially helpful because it draws upon prior knowledge of language and personal experience in order to derive theme from a poem. This method of interpretation asks students to figure out what a poet is literally saying, what he or she means by what is said, and why any of this matters to the reader.
Poetry uses words which sound good together. It appeals to the ears.
Poetry uses a form other than paragraphs. It appeals to the eye.
Poetry communicates an idea or an image. It appeals to the mind.
Say, Mean, Matter uses the following steps:
Say: Students should write precise paraphrases of each verse in order to determine what the author is saying.
3. Model the Use of Say, Mean, Matter -- TWM suggests using Muhammad Ali's famous two-word poem:
This is a poem because it is concerned with an aesthetic means of communicating an important theme, it uses rhyme, and its theme is accessible. No one will argue that this is an especially high quality poem; but everyone must agree that it is, in fact, a poem. It is perfect for the practice of interpretation.
Mean: Students should then attempt to find meaning in what is said. This is often a matter of paying attention to diction and the feeling that lies behind the words.
Matter: Students should be able to write a sentence about how the poet's words matter, in terms of the lives of the reader or audience. When the poem matters, theme is easy to find.
The first line says a word that refers to the poet himself and the second line says an expression of joy. These two words mean that the poet is happy with himself. These two words matter because it is important to have self-esteem. Thus, follows the theme of the poem, self-esteem is a joy, a wonderful thing to have.
After this light-hearted exercise, the class will be ready to tackle the more difficult poems heard in the snippet.
4. Introduce the Snippet -- Provide a limited explanation of the story line in the movie. TWM suggests giving the following explanation:
This movie is about two sisters who were once very close. Rose, the older sister, is plain but practical, and successful in her career. Maggie, the younger sister, is pretty, but dyslexic and still has difficulty reading. They have become estranged after an incident of betrayal by Maggie, who is now working as an aide in a rest home. The first part of the snippet shows Maggie in the room of an old, dying professor who used to teach poetry. With his help, Maggie discovers that she can succeed at reading. The second part of the snippet shows Maggie reading another poem to the old man. At the end of the film, the sisters become reconciled. The last part of the snippet shows Maggie reciting a poem at Rose's wedding.
Any additional explanation of events in the movie runs the risk of distracting students from the poetry.
5. Play the first clip -- Start at DVD scene 17 and let the movie run for six minutes until Maggie is finished analyzing the poem and the old professor has given her a grade.
6. Free Writing Assignment -- Give the students five minutes to write freely about the snippet. Tell them to address the question of the meaning of the poem, how the professor helped Maggie to understand the poem, and the feeling of esteem she gained from the experience.
7. Analyze the Poem -- Distribute One Art to the class. Point out the elements that define the poem as a villanelle, which is a 19 line poem which consists of five tercets and a concluding quatrain. This genre of poetry further requires a specific pattern of repeated lines and only two rhymes are heard in the entire poem. It is a difficult form of poetry requiring the author to adhere rigidly to strict rules. Some critics assert that Bishop used this form to show the effort to control the effects of losing, to keep in check the notion and expectation of loss.
Students will benefit from exposure to the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, One Art, Jane Kenyan, Let Evening Come, and e. e. cummings, i carry your heart with me. Say, Mean, Matter is an excellent way to analyze poetry. Combining these elements with In Her Shoes will enhance any lesson plan. Click Here to Subscribe to TeachWithMovies Today!!
8. Apply Say, Mean, Matter to One Art -- Ask students, either working in groups or alone, to follow the Say, Mean, Matter process with One Art. In each verse they must paraphrase the author's words and then suggest what the author is saying, discover what the poet means and, finally, how this information may matter to the students in their own lives. This process was made apparent in the snippet. The young woman told the professor, at his prodding, what the writer was saying in so far as she understood it. This is completely appropriate for poetry which is a personal interaction between art and observer. Have students replicate this process.
9. Deleted Lines -- Students may note which lines, even whole verses, were edited out of the recitation in the snippet. Discuss whether this was appropriate. Answers will vary, and there is no right or wrong response.
10. More Interpretation of One Art -- In the snippet, the professor asks the young woman if the loss was potential or probable, whether it had already happened or whether the loss was yet to come. No answer is given to this important question. It should also be asked of the students. They need to think about the use of the words "shant have lied." They need to think about why the last line includes "(Write it!)" and how this parenthetical expression may be a reference to the poet's own experience. Many critics think that this, Elizabeth Bishop's last poem, is about what is lost in the process of writing, how difficult it is to finish something, and how once a poem is finished, it is lost to the author. Another interpretation is that the parenthetical phrase stresses the difficulty of allowing oneself to admit the emotional pain of losing someone or something that was important. There are many interpretations of poetry, all of them acceptable.
11. Play the Second Clip -- Once the students have been successful in finding personal meaning in One Art, they are ready to move onto the second snippet and Jane Kenyon's poem Let Evening Come. Very little of this poem is used in the film. The result of hearing the poem may be to provoke the viewers to find the poem that is being alluded to and discover its meaning. The poem is important to the changes being experienced by the young woman and the dying man. Understanding the allusion to Jane Kenyon's poem can help students become aware of the value of literary allusion. Play the clip, beginning at DVD scene 21. The clip is one minute into the scene and lasts for 50 seconds.
13. Apply Say, Mean, Matter to Let Evening Come -- Distribute the poem in its entirety . . . .
The remaining nine steps in the Snippet Lesson Plan build skills by having students practice analyzing the second and third poems with guidance from the teacher. Subscribe to TeachWithMovies.com: Only $11.99 per year.
Concluding Activity/Assessment: This assessment also includes elements of independent practice in that students will be asked to apply what they have learned.
Students can be assigned the following projects either in class or as homework. Specify the length and complexity of the assignment depending on available time, skill levels of the students and how this lesson fits into the curriculum.
1. In groups, have students find biographical information about each of the poets. One member of the group should share the information with the rest of the class. Each remaining member of the class should present another poem written by the author assigned to his or her group. Readings of the poems found should be carefully practiced so that delivery can help communicate meaning.
The lesson plan provides several other concluding assignments and essay prompts.
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