In my American Seminar classes, the advanced 11th grade course on American literature, I did a mini-unit on Anne Bradstreet poetry.
First of all, my students all have a copy of the Norton Anthology of American Literature, which is their major text for this course. Within the Norton, there is a section on Anne Bradstreet.
Assignment #1: Read the short introduction to Anne Bradstreet.
When the students came to class the day of my mini-unit, I started with an intro to poetry. What is poetry? What are some of the elements of poetry? I shared a notes sheet with them on our Google Classroom site: Types of Figurative Language. As a class, I had them fill out the notes sheet, giving examples of each type and discussing them.
After, I had them re-read the short intro to Bradstreet’s life. (It was the Monday after Homecoming weekend and I figured they needed a refresher…or to read it in the first place). Then we talked about Bradstreet as a class. Who was she? What are the most important facts about her, her life, and her poetry? I shared another notes sheet with them–Anne Bradstreet & Poetry Notes. Here, they filled in information about her and her life, then would later collect notes on her poems.
Assignment #2: Complete notes sheet on Figurative Language and Anne Bradstreet Background.
After the introductions, my next lesson was focused on analyzing “The Prologue,” one of Bradstreet’s poems, and the first poem in the Norton. I had a volunteer read the poem aloud, then as a class, we broke the poem down to the specific elements.
I pointed out things such as the iambic pentameter, symbolism, literary devices, metaphor, style, rhythm, rhyme, theme, tone, speaker, and historical/Puritan references. Here’s what the board looked like post-discussion:
Analyzing “The Prologue” took all period, but it was great to show them the elements of Bradstreet’s poetry and do complete the hard part as a class. My next objective was to have them do the analyzing themselves, as a small group.
Assignment #3: Analyze “The Prologue” and add notes to note sheet.
At this point, I assigned the groups and the poems. I then gave my students 10 minutes to work on their projects, and the next class period (45 minutes) to work with their groups on presentations. My goal was to have each group present their poem aloud (reading the poem, analyzing the poem, pointing out main elements) in a 5-10 minute presentation.
I gave them a Rubric to guide their presentation.
Assignment #4: Analyze a specific poem as a small group and put together a short presentation for the class on the poem’s elements, theme, literary devices, and content.
Here are the notes sheets: Anne Bradstreet and Poetry Notes, Types of Figurative Language, and the Presentation Rubric.
While each group was presenting, the students were to fill out their notes sheet. At the end of presentations, they would each share their notes sheets with me on the Classroom site.
Assignment #5: Record notes and share notes sheets on Classroom site.
My hope, with these large-group guided notes and group presentations, was that the students would grasp the main concepts and themes of Anne Bradstreet’s poetry and easily connect her writing to the Colonial Period. Then Bradstreet and her poetry could broaden their understanding of the Colonial Period and give even more background to The Scarlet Letter, the novel that they are currently reading.
Assignment #6: Take a short quiz to see if comprehension, content, and connection was mastered.
I did a short, three question quiz at the end of the unit to see what students had learned about Anne Bradstreet and her connection to both the Colonial Period and The Scarlet Letter.
To view the quiz, click here: Bradstreet Quiz