What might it be?

What might it be?

Pencil and paperOnline interactive
Overview
Using this Resource
Connecting to the Curriculum
Marking Student Responses
Working with Students
Further Resources
This task is about predicting what a poem could be describing by making inferences.
You will read a poem in three parts, one part at a time.
After reading each part:
  1. in the left hand boxes, predict all the things you think the poem is describing.
  2. in the right hand boxes, explain how the evidence in the text, and what you know, supports your predictions.

Question 1Change answer

The _________

Grinds its teeth
Over the grass,
Spitting out a thick
Green spray;
Part 1
I think this poem could be describing any one of these things:  because:

Question 1Change answer

The _________

Grinds its teeth
Over the grass,
Spitting out a thick
Green spray;
 
Its head is too full
Of iron and oil
To know
What it throws
Away:
Part 1
I think this poem could be describing any one of these things:  because:
 

Question 1Change answer

The _________

 

Grinds its teeth
Over the grass,
Spitting out a thick
Green spray;
 
Its head is too full
Of iron and oil
To know
What it throws
Away:
 
The lawn's whole
Crop of chopped
Soft,
Delicious
Green hay.
Part 3
Now I think this poem could be describing any one of these things:  because:
 

Question 1Change answer

Pause, look, and think back: Something I'm still wondering about is:

Question 1Change answer

To do this activity, you used the reading strategy of making inferences.

 
Select any other reading strategy you used and describe when and how you used this reading strategy for this poem:
Making connections between what I know  yesno
Asking questions yesno
Creating a picture in my head, or visualising yesno
Identifying the writer's purpose yesno
Identifying the main idea yesno
Summarising yesno
Analysing and synthesising ideas and information yesno
Evaluating ideas and information yesno
Task administration: 
This task can be completed with pen and paper or online (with NO auto marking).
 
Four important points to tell students are:
  1. There is no right answer. The best answers are based on what they already know and the evidence in the text.
  2. The left hand boxes are for brainstorming what the poem could be describing, and the right hand boxes are for giving evidence from both the poem and their knowledge that supports their predictions.
  3. When reading a new part, use the new evidence to build on previous evidence.
  4. Not to get rid of any of their previous ideas when new evidence is shown.
If students are using pencil and paper to complete this task the poem could be presented, verse by verse, on a screen or IWB.  Another way of presenting this task is to print the whole poem and cut it into strips to give to individual students part by part.
Level:
3
Curriculum info: 
Key Competencies: 
Description of task: 
This comprehension task involves progressively disclosing a poem to students. It assesses their ability to infer.
Curriculum Links: 
Links to the Literacy Learning Progressions for Reading:
This resource helps to identify students’ ability to:

  • use comprehension strategies
  • monitor their reading for accuracy and sense

as described in the Literacy Learning Progressions for Reading at: http://www.literacyprogressions.tki.org.nz/The-Structure-of-the-Progressions.

Learning Progression Frameworks
This resource can provide evidence of learning associated with within the Reading Learning Progressions Frameworks.
Read more about the Learning Progressions Frameworks.
Answers/responses: 
  Y7 (04/2005)
By the end of the poem the student describes only some sort of mechanical grass cutter.
(Accept lawn mower, hay baler, harvester, etc.)
Very easy
Diagnostic and formative information: 

Things to look for in student responses:

Inference

By the end of the poem:

  • does the student describe onlysome sort of mechanical grass cutter. (Comment: 80% of students in the national trial did this.)
  • does the student describe some sort of mechanical grass cutter but still include something living as a possibility? (Comment: 9% of students in the national trial did this.)
  • does the student describe only something living? (Comment: Another 10% of the students in the national trial did this.)

 

Analysis and synthesis (see examples below)

  1. In Part 1, how much evidence does the student consider when making suggestions about what the object is? 
  2. In Part 1, does each suggestion fit with all the evidence? 
  3. In Part 2, does the student make a suggestion that considers all the evidence from both verses of the poem? 
  4. In Part 2, does the student make a suggestion that considers only some evidence from both verses of the poem? 
  5. In Part 2, does the student make a suggestion that considers all the evidence from the second verse of the poem but ignores the evidence in the first verse? 
  6. In Part 2, does the student make a suggestion that considers only someofthe evidence from the second verse of the poem and ignores the evidence in the first verse? 
  7. In Part 2, does the student persist with suggestions from Part 1, ignoring evidence from the second verse that does not fit? 

 

Making connections (see examples below)

  1. Does the student show evidence of making links to prior knowledge to assist with making meaning? 
  2. Does the student show evidence of making a link to prior knowledge that has been unhelpful in making meaning? 

 

Figurative language (see examples below)

  1. Does the student accept the use of metaphors? 
  2. Does the student question the use of metaphors? 
  3. Does the student not recognise metaphors? 

Metaphor: When you say a thing is another thing, when in reality, it is not. For example, in this poem, a vehicle is said to have eyes and prowl.
 

Examples
Analysis and synthesis

  1. In Part 1: "spray can, because it says a thick green spray like a spray can". (Comment: this student made only one suggestion and attended to only one piece of evidence ie green spray. Evidence not attended to: grinding teeth, grass.). In Part 1: "ogre because it's big and sprays green stuff, deer because deer eat grass, monster because monsters grind their teeth when they are angry." (Comment: This student attended to all the evidence from the poem but did not ensure that each suggestion fitted all the evidence.)
  2. In Part 1: "Cow because cows eat grass a lot and they might dribble and it would be green. Sheep for the same reason and a lawn mower because it has blades as the teeth and spits out the grass chopped up". (Comment: this student ensured each suggestion fitted all the evidence.)
  3. In Part 1 "cow because cows eat grass a lot and they might dribble and it would be green. Sheep for the same reasons and a lawn mower because it has blades as the teeth and spits out the chopped up grass." In Part 2 "Now I think it is a lawnmower because of the reasons above and you put oil in it to make it work and it is made of iron." (Comment: This student used all evidence available in verse 1 and then rejected 2 of the initial suggestions when new evidence became available in verse 2. The student ensured the suggestion fitted all the evidence from both verses.)
  4. In Part 2 "car because green fluid comes out of the iron car." (Comment: Green fluid from verse 1 and iron from verse 2 but ignores other evidence such as grass from verse 1 and throwing away from verse 2.)
  5. In Part 2: "A rubbish truck because it throws away things." (Comment: This student has ignored the evidence about eating grass from the first verse but used all the evidence in verse 2 to infer that it was a machine that threw things away.)
  6. In Part 2 "A machine because it has oil and iron." (Comment: This student ignored the evidence in verse 2 about throwing something away and the evidence in verse one about grass.)
  7. In Part 1: "goat because goats grind their teeth when eating grass" and then in Part 2 "goat because it is too dumb to know what it is throwing away." (Comment: This student ignored evidence that suggests it is not a living thing.)

Making connections

  1. "I know about lawn mowers because Mum and Dad own a lawn mowing franchise."
  2. Part 2: "A pig because they make bacon and it has iron and oil when you eat it." (Comment: This student has made a connection to prior knowledge about iron in meat.)

Figurative language

  1. Part 1: "Lawn mower because the part that cuts the grass could be the teeth grinding the grass."
  2. "I think it is a lawn mower but lawn mowers don’t have teeth and don’t spray out grass."
  3. Part 2: "A knight because knights have iron on their armour." (Comment: This student continues to think it is a living thing and attempts to make the evidence fit. Evidence not attended to: Metaphorical language in Parts 1 and 2.)
Next steps: 
If students are having difficulty analysing and synthesising, guide them through the following group assessment process:

  1. Part 1: First, the teacher identifies a correct response in a whole class setting. They find the evidence in the text that supports it (i.e., start by modelling the process and confirming something that has been done right).
  2. Part 1: In groups, students check their responses for supporting evidence, making sure no evidence is missed. They check that all responses fit all the evidence. (This will involve a lot of discussion as students justify their responses and work through the responses of others.)
  3. Part 2: Repeat the process for Part 1 and check that the evidence from both parts is considered within each response.
  4. Part 3: Repeat the process, checking that evidence from the whole poem is considered.
  5. Pause, look, and think back: Students identify unresolved differences of opinion and points of interest.
  6. Discuss any ideas raised as a class.

If the student does not accept metaphorical language:

  1. Explain that we use metaphorical language all the time but that because most of the metaphors we use are so common, they have no impact. For example, when someone is described as a 'pig' it doesn't cause us to stop and imagine a pig; and when someone is described as an 'old bat' we don't imagine an elderly bat. Support the student to think of other animal-related metaphors we use in everyday language (e.g., 'your room's a pigsty', 'he's a rat', 'the pigs arrested him', 'you're such a pussycat', 'he has the heart of a lion', etc).
  2. Go on to explain that poets aren't interested in using these everyday metaphors, that is, metaphors that don't cause us to stop and think. They want to make new metaphors that we have never heard before, metaphors that 'stop us in our tracks' (that's a metaphor, but one that has no impact because it's so common). They want us to imagine, to make pictures in our heads.
  3. Go through the metaphors in the poem (e.g., the mower has teeth, it spits out spray, it has a head, and it throws). Ask the student to talk about the pictures they have in their head when they read them. Finally, ask the student to read through the whole poem, thinking about how each picture in their head works together with the others to make an overall image of the mower as an animal.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5 to 8, Comprehension Strategies, p141-152 Learning Media, 2006.