Sixth grade students have been reading Sharon Creech’s novel Walk Two Moons in Miss Rhodes and Mrs. Parker’s ELA classes. In the novel, characters analyze the poem “The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in their English class. On this WICOR Wednesday, Miss Rhodes gave her students the opportunity to read and analyze this nineteenth century American poem to arrive at their own interpretations of its meaning.
Miss Rhodes first led students through a close and careful reading of the complex text, asking them to interpret what happened to the traveler mentioned, just as Sal and the other characters did in Walk Two Moons. Looking carefully at the poem’s diction, students debated whether or not the traveler died. Ultimately, the class analyzed the poem's relationship to the novel, discussing why the author chose to include it at all and how it connects to the main characters.
Miss Rhodes then designed a set of questions based on the achievement level descriptors (ALDS) for the standard students were working to master. Following the model she learned from observing Mrs. Alicia Cook at Mossy Head Elementary last week, Miss Rhodes designed a set of questions that increased in rigor. Students first answered a level two question, just below the standard, climbing their way up to level five, well above the standard’s expectations. As students worked through the question, they collaborated with their peers, discussing why wrong answers are wrong and right answers are right. Rich text-based conversations abounded throughout the classroom about the poem, and Miss Rhodes supported students’ complex thinking every step of the way.
Though students might not all ultimately agree on what happened to the traveler by the end of the poem or why Sharon Creech included it in the novel, their understanding of the poem was enriched through the close and careful reading, thoughtful inquiry, and meaningful collaboration that happened in class on this WICOR Wednesday.