A Poetic Finale
Days 4 and 5: Evaluation
During the last two days of the lesson, we watch the performances from Day 3, critiquing them and discussing issues brought up by the students’ poems. For the most part, I allow the content of the students’ poems to fuel discussion. However, given the nature of the assignment, I like to ask the class the following questions as we wrap up the activity and our Holocaust unit:
- Why is it important to use individually meaningful forms of expression when dealing with an emotional and historically significant event like the Holocaust?
- How did the poems differ? Did any poem strongly embody the personality of its writer?
- How will this activity help you bear witness in the future?
- Did the poems allow us to understand something new about the Holocaust and our role as witnesses?
Students receive two evaluations from their peers and one from me. See Rubric: Poetic Finale. Note: Because poems legitimately invite multiple interpretations, it can be useful to include a more extended reflection on the link between the poem and the historical period and human experience. When students use the rubric to give feedback to the presenting poets, they could take into account the links defined by the author as well as some new personal links that they experience in reading the poems. Students are also asked to reflect on the activity using the handout titled Reflecting on the Poetic Finale (Student Handout 6).
A NOTE ON TIME
In theory, this lesson can be done in five 50-minute class periods. However, many factors may cause the lesson to take longer. In my experience, I have noticed student motivation increase right before a deadline. If students seem motivated and you can give them more time, do so.