ELA.RL.8.4

Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • RL:  Reading Standards for Literature 6â\x80\x9312
  • 8:  8th Grade
  • 4: 
    Determine the meaning of words and phrases
    as they are used in a text, including figurative
    and connotative meanings; analyze the impact
    of specific word choices on meaning and tone,
    including analogies or allusions to other texts.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

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ELA.RL.8.5

Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • RL:  Reading Standards for Literature 6â\x80\x9312
  • 8:  8th Grade
  • 5: 
    Compare and contrast the structure of two or more
    texts and analyze how the differing structure of
    each text contributes to its meaning and style.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

Analyze Literature Critically Using the SIFT Method
Lesson Objective: Students use the SIFT method to critically analyze two poems
Grade 8 / ELA / Poetry
ELA.RL.8.4 | ELA.RL.8.5

Thought starters

  1. What are advantages and limitations of using a process such as the SIFT method?
  2. Why is it helpful to focus on one overarching portion of the process (tone/theme)?
  3. How does small group discussion prepare students for richer, more rigorous whole group discussion?
44 Comments
I'd like to see more videos like this (on poetry).
Recommended (1)
Great way to have students analyze poetry.
Recommended (1)
Great Analysis activity. Also includes footage of children participating in the activity.
Recommended (0)
A wonderful use of a graphic organizer for discussing poetry or short prose texts. The SIFT acronym is also terrific for supporting essay prompts.
Recommended (1)
I like the use of the SIFT bookmark to focus students' work.
Recommended (1)

Transcripts

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    TEACHING CHANNEL / SIFT
    INTERVIEW WITH MEAGAN BERKOWITZ

    MEAGAN BERKOWITZ:
    Hi, my name is Meagan Berkowitz. I'm an 8th grade Language

    00:01:02:00

    00:01:20:00

    00:01:23:00

    00:01:36:00

    00:01:39:00

    00:01:53:00

    00:02:03:00

    00:02:14:00

    00:02:18:00

    00:02:24:00

    00:02:37:00

    00:02:44:00

    00:02:54:00

    00:03:03:00

    TEACHING CHANNEL / SIFT
    INTERVIEW WITH MEAGAN BERKOWITZ

    MEAGAN BERKOWITZ:
    Hi, my name is Meagan Berkowitz. I'm an 8th grade Language Arts teacher at Coleytown Middle School, and my lesson strategy is to used the SIFT method, which stands for Symbolism, Imagery, Figurative language, Tone and theme. SIFT is a method that I stumbled upon in looking for different ways to teach many students how to critically look at a piece of literature. I give them a bookmark and they look at every piece of writing that we do critically, by using that method. It gives them a way to remember how to break apart a piece of text into its different component parts.
    STUDENT 1:
    "In time of silver rain. The earth. Puts forth new life again..."
    MEAGAN BERKOWITZ:
    In this lesson, we're going to be reading "In Time of Silver Rains," by Langston Hughes, and "There Will Come Soft Rains," by Sara Teasdale. They’re both about nature and humans. The difference between them, though, is in the theme and the tone. Sara Teasdale's poem is much more cynical, and Hughes's poem is a lot more kind of inclusive, and I want them to be able to see that in the process of SIFTing it.
    STUDENT 2:
    "And frogs in the pools singing at night, / And wild plum trees in tremulous white..."
    MEAGAN BERKOWITZ:
    What I’m going to have you do now is, take out your bookmarks and I want you to SIFT these poems.
    (interview)
    They'll start with symbols and then they'll move into the imagery -- and I tell them with imagery, they have a tendency to mark everything up; I tell them to really only look for the examples of really, really descriptive writing -- and then they move into the figurative language.
    (classroom)
    I really want you to focus on the difference between tone and theme in these pieces. So make that's something that you're kind of keeping in the back of your mind as you SIFT them.
    (interview)
    Tone and theme isn't something that they're going really be able to mark up one line. They have to come up with their own interpretation. So that is the final part of SIFTing a piece. When they finish their individual work then they will work collaboratively in their groups, and they'll look at all the different components that they have identified.
    (classroom)
    On the back page of your packet, you have your graphic organizer, and this organizer is going to focus on the similarities and differences between the poems in terms of SIFTing it.
    (interview)
    I give them the graphic organizer, and essentially it's a table, and they will fill that in when they're discussing in their groups. It’s a way for them to kind of visually see the group discussion.
    STUDENT 1:
    They're both talking about cleansing and how the earth needs to be changed, and like, begin on a fresh slate.
    MEAGAN BERKOWITZ:
    I think that sift works most effectively when you're looking at a short piece. It works with short stories and poetry, because there's a smaller amount of text for the kids to focus on.
    STUDENT 3:
    When it says "There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground," that's a symbol of like, life continuing without humans...yeah, and in the other poem it's talking about "passing boys and girls," and so it's saying that boys and girls and young children are like, good, that nature can coexist.
    MEAGAN BERKOWITZ:
    All right, guys, at this point we're going to move into our full class discussion, just to kind of debrief on these two pieces and see what you found. What was really the difference in the tone and theme of these two poems?
    STUDENT 4:
    For the differences, we said that they both like start off kind of happy, describing like spring and like the new beginning, but the second one, once it says "if mankind perish utterly," that's when it like, that's the turning point.
    STUDENT 5:
    "In Time of Silver Rain," it was saying how humanity's happy and singing and joyful, but in the, "There Will Come Soft Rain," it said that society was war and a destructive force.
    MEAGAN BERKOWITZ:
    In the middle school, kids are really great at summarizing, but we're really trying to lead them into analysis. SIFT is really a great strategy to use because it helps students look at a piece of literature past the plot, and they have to look at it as a critic, and that's really important for them to learn how to do.
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    * * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *

School Details

Coleytown Middle School
255 North Ave
Westport CT 06880
Population: 548

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Teachers

Meagan Berkowitz

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