July 25, 2013

7 Steps for Poetry Analysis

I originally posted on this topic back in February, but I wanted to share it again today for First Grade Parade's Throwback Thursday, now that I have many more followers who may benefit from a lesson idea like this!

We started our poetry unit this week, and today I introduced TP-CASTT, which are the seven steps we use for poetry analysis. I think this is a really important and often-overlooked step in poetry. It we want our students to move into higher-level thinking, we need to teach them how to do that. We can't expect our students to just analyze a poem without teaching that what that looks like. TP-CASTT is a great 7-step method that teaches your students how to analyze a poem. For those that don't know, the steps are:

Title (again, with new context)

Today's goal was for every student to memorize the steps so they know what they have to do (and what each step means). I don't know about your students, but mine are constantly tapping their pens and pencils to the various rhythms in their heads. I'm thankfully for this poetry unit, which allows them to put those beats to good use!!

Additionally, I'm a big believer in using kinesthetic learning in the classroom because I have SO many students that learn this way. Keeping my students moving keeps them involved in their learning and makes the material more memorable. I don't fully use Whole Brain Teaching my classroom because I feel it's better for lower grades, but I definitely incorporate parts of it!

To that end, I asked each of my classes to come up with their own gestures to memorize the steps in TP-CASTT. Each class came up with very different movements, but the great thing is that they own them! There may have been a little bit of a battle during lunch today over who has the best moves. haha!

Tomorrow, I will model how to apply these steps to the poem, "Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein, and then we will do plenty of guided and independent practice with leveled texts over the next few weeks.


  1. I am a definite TP-CASTT fan. I use it in all levels including AP Lit. One of my favorite poems to introduce TPCASTT is Siren Song by Margaret Atwood...it has such a sharp "shift" that students really begin to understand what shift means.

    1. Thanks for that great tip! I'll have to look into that one because shift is definitely a tough one for my middle schoolers!

  2. I love your idea too Jenn! I haven't done TPCASTT with middle schoolers but I know the high school uses it a lot! I should start it with them and see what they think! :)