- Develop skills of noticing (seeing, hearing, and feeling) to learn about one type of owl from a series of photographs
- Make connections between what they notice and prior knowledge
- Ask their own questions
- Computer and projector or laptops and iPads for group instruction
Note: Depending on the technology capabilities in your classroom, students can work individually, in pairs, or in small groups (on a laptop or iPad), or as a large group with an image projected at the front of the room.
- Access to the National Geographic website photograph of Ural owls
- Student writing notebooks
- Whiteboard or chart paper
- Markers for whiteboard or chart paper
Warm Up Whip Around: Go around the room, asking your students what associations they have to the word owl.
Step 1: Tell your students they will be studying an excerpt of the poem "The Owl" by Arthur Sze in both performance and written form as a prelude to writing and performing their own poems.
Step 2: Go to the National Geographic website photograph of Ural owls. You will see a series of small photographs of the owls at the top of the page. Please ask your students only to look at the first three, so they can hone their skills of perception and learn deeply from the photos.
Step 3: Walk your students through the following prompts. Students should remain quiet unless instructed to speak in partners.
- Ask your students to look at each photograph carefully (give them several minutes with each one) and to write down what they notice about the Ural owl. What do they see? If they say something like, "There is a mother owl with a baby," ask them to point to the evidence in the photograph for their conclusion and describe what the evidence is.
- Can they make any connections between what they see in these photos to other things they have seen or about which they have read? Ask them to write these connections down.
- What questions do they have about Ural owls now that they have engaged with the photos? Again, they should write down their questions.
- Ask your students to turn and talk with a partner about what they have written down. They should add to their writing what they have learned from their partners.
Step 4: Conduct a large group discussion. What are students' responses to what they have noticed in the photos? What do they think/feel about the Ural owl now that they know these details?
Ask your students to keep a running list on the front board in your room of the words they have read and heard that they do not understand. You can either conduct a separate vocabulary lesson on these words where students try to figure out their meaning from context and connections, or go over vocabulary as you progress through the other activities.
- Did students engage with the photographs?
- Did students participate in group and class discussions?
Common Core State Standards/College and Career Anchor Standards
- Reading: Key Ideas and Details, 2; Craft and Structure, 4; Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, 7, 9
- Writing: Text Types and Purposes, 3; Production and Distribution of Writing, 5, 6
- Speaking and Listening: Comprehension and Collaboration, 1, 2
- Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use, 4, 5
- Interdisciplinary Connections: Science (Animals, Environmental Issues)
Studying Other Poet Videos
You can adapt the above activities to viewing and reading any of the other poems in the Poet-to-Poet collection. Of course, you will have to change the poem-specific activities, such as the preparation photo, but the viewing and reading activities can be easily adapted.
Poets and Their Poems:
Juan Felipe Herrera, "Five Directions to My House"
Edward Hirsch, "Fast Break"
Jane Hirshfield, "My Skeleton"
Naomi Shihab Nye, "A Valentine for Ernest Mann"
Ron Padgett, "Nothing in that Drawer"
Arthur Sze, "The Owl"
Arthur Sze, "Here"
Anne Waldman, from "Manatee/Humanity"