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Poetry Analysis and TPCASTT

Poetry is potentially the most expressive forms of literature. It evokes emotions, sets a moods, tell a stories, and creates deep and deep and universal feelings in its readers. However, this same quality makes poetry more difficult to parse than prose, and can be frustrating to unpracticed students.

Teaching students to look at a poem with an order of operation in mind gives them a framework to start their analysis. TPCASTT stands for title, paraphrase, connotation, attitude/tone, shift, title, theme. This method is great to start students reading and inferring with little assistance from the instructor. TPCASTT poetry analysis reinforces key themes and ensures that students grasp the important concepts of each poem. Use some or all of the activities in this teaching guide to get your students excited about poetry!

Our Recommended TPCASTT Lesson Plan

This lesson will overview the TPCASTT system of interpreting poetry and provide students a system of hypothesis and discovery. This will help students to engage with the subtleties of poetry, beyond the face of the text.

Grade Level: 3-12

Standards

Although this lesson can be used in many grade levels, the Common Core State Standards for grades 9-10 are listed below. Please see your Common Core State Standards for the correct grade appropriate strands.

  • ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1: Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  • ELA-Literacy.RL.7.1: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  • ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1: Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  • ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text

Time: Two 45-Minute Class Meetings

Lesson Specific Essential Questions

  1. How do great writers create a mood that a reader can feel through their work?
  2. What are the parts of a poem and how can we learn to analyze its meaning?
  3. What is the importance of the title of a poem?
  4. How do literary elements affect a reader's understanding of a work of literature?

Objectives

Students will be able to read and explain the elements within a poem using the TPCASTT method of operation for poetry analysis.


Before Reading

Before reading, it is a good idea to introduce students to the steps of TPCASTT, and to go over any terms that may be new to them.


T

TITLE

Ask students to consider the title, and make a prediction about what the poem will be about. Make sure this is done prior to reading or giving background information on the poem.
P

PARAPHRASE

After the title, students should paraphrase the poem. Students may translate the poem line by line into their own words, or summarize the work as a whole. At this point, tell them not to guess or infer what the author might be saying. Keep things concrete and literal.
C

CONNOTATION

Now, it is time for students to look deeper. Ask them to examine the poem for meaning beyond what is written in the text. Ask them to infer, guess, question, and think about the emotions and feelings the lines invoke. They should look for figurative language, imagery, and sound elements.
A

ATTITUDE/TONE

Ask to consider the tone of the speaker. Ask them to come up with some words to describe what that tone sounds like. Is it upset, mad, happy, melancholy? They can find direct quotes, or list words that all have the similar connotations.
S

SHIFTS

Ask students to think about the speaker's attitude or tone, and to note any shifts or changes. They can specifically look for key words, time change, punctuation that is different than what preceded it.
T

TITLE

Ask students to examine the title again. Now that they have uncovered much of the literal and interpretive meanings of the work, ask them what they think the title means. Were they correct with their first prediction? Were they wrong? Why?
T

THEME

Finally, have students put in their own words what the poem's subject is. What did they learn? What was the author, narrator, or speaker trying to tell the reader?

During Reading

It is crucial for students to focus on listening to the poem read out loud before getting into the TPCASTT. We recommend that students read it silently to themselves, then listen to it read aloud by the teacher or using multimedia. After students have read it twice, ask them what they caught or what changed the second time they heard/read it? Be careful not to get into a large class discussion, it might detract from the activity.


After Reading

If this is your first time doing TPCASTT with your classes, I suggest you allow for cooperative learning. Have students in pairs or groups complete the analysis together. If this is not their first-time, challenge them by asking that they do it individually; the teacher can always decide to do a "think, pair, share" after if necessary.

Once they have finished their worksheet, and it has been checked, students can begin to create their storyboard explaining what they came up with for ideas. Afterward you can have students present their storyboards and findings to the class! Just check out our article on how to present a storyboard!

If you do not have computer access, go right into sharing and class discussion.


TPCASTT Template Examples

Related Activities

Check out these TP-CASST activities from our guides on "The Raven", "Jabberwocky", and "On Being Brought from Africa to America".




How to Use the TPCASTT Method for Poetry Analysis

1

Introduce TPCASTT (Before Reading)

Explain the TPCASTT method to students and discuss its purpose in analyzing poetry. Emphasize the significance of the title and encourage students to make predictions about the poem's content.

2

Read and Paraphrase (During Reading)

Have students read the poem and then paraphrase it in their own words. Focus on the literal meaning of the poem and avoid interpretation at this stage.

3

Explore Connotation and Tone (During Reading)

Guide students to analyze the connotations, emotions, and imagery present in the poem. Encourage them to infer, question, and reflect on the feelings evoked by the lines. Discuss the tone of the speaker and its impact on the overall meaning.

4

Identify Shifts (During Reading)

Prompt students to identify any shifts or changes in the speaker's attitude, tone, or perspective throughout the poem. Look for key words, punctuation, or structural changes that indicate a shift in meaning.

5

Revisit the Title and Theme (After Reading)

Revisit the title and ask students to reflect on its significance after analyzing the poem. Discuss whether their initial predictions aligned with the actual content. Finally, guide students to determine the poem's theme or main subject and support their interpretation with evidence from the text.

Frequently Asked Questions about TPCASTT Poetry Analysis

What is TPCASTT poetry analysis?

TPCASTT is an acronym for a method of poetry analysis that stands for Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude/Tone, Shift, Title (again), and Theme. It is a structured approach that helps students analyze and understand the meaning and themes of a poem.

Why is TPCASTT poetry analysis important?

TPCASTT poetry analysis is important because it provides students with a step-by-step method to analyze a poem. It helps students identify and interpret the key elements of a poem, such as a title, the author's attitude and tone, and the theme. By breaking down a poem into these components, students can gain a better understanding of the poem and its meaning.

How does TPCASTT poetry analysis work?

The TPCASTT method works by having students follow a set of steps to analyze a poem. First, students examine the title of the poem and make predictions about what the poem will be about. Then, they paraphrase the poem in their own words to gain a better understanding of its meaning. After that, students analyze the connotations of words in the poem and the author's attitude and tone. Next, they look for any shifts in the poem and identify their significance. Finally, students revisit the title of the poem to see if it has any new meanings and determine the overall theme.

Find more activities like this in our 6-12 ELA Category!
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