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Would You Please?
Manal Yazbak Abu Ahmad
Asking questions is an integral part of the critical thinking pedagogy. Using literature encourages students to ask key questions that enable them to locate themselves in the thought of another and to find more information about the literary piece. In this activity, students use the poem to interview the poet and practice asking inquiry questions about the content of the poem. Thus, the objective of this activity is to teach students inquiry and empathy skills.
- Students will learn to categorize
- Students will learn to ask questions to orient themselves to what an author is saying.
- Students will learn to learn to ask key questions that enable them to locate themselves in the thought of another.
- Students will learn to acquire inquiry skills while listening actively and critically.
Lead-in / Preparation
One Art by Elizabeth Bishop
Estimated Class-Time Required
Description of Activities
- The teacher asks students to brainstorm items they have personally or people usually lose lost in the course of their lives. (3 min)
- The teacher asks the students to put the items into three categories. They have to come with the categories: trivial, valuable and sentimental. (3 min)
- The teacher asks the students to categorize the items they came up with into three categories. (3 min)
- The teacher asks the students to read the poem and prepare questions. They discuss the poem and the item the poet lost (15 min)
- Role play: The teacher asks the students to interview the poet and ask questions about the items she lost or things they don’t understand. They work in groups of threes. One student is the interviewer, the second one is the poet while the third one is the observer who makes sure they ask good and meaningful questions. Each interviewer should ask at least five polite questions starting with Would you please? and the “poet” should answer them. (13 min)
- Debriefing what happened in the interview from each perspective. (8 min)
Key Vocabulary / Phrases
There are no difficult words in the poem, but the teacher can focus on the following to prepare for the interview:
The art of losing/disaster/ master/ gesture/ intent/ practice
The observer’s task is to assess the interview process. The teacher must choose the advanced students to be observers. They will make sure each interviewer asks at least five questions starting with Would you please? and the other student (the poet) answers them.
The whole group debriefs the process during the interview. Interviewers, those who played the role of poets and the observers share their experiences. The teacher asks: “How did you feel playing the role of interviewer/the poet/observer? What were the challenges? How did you resolve them? Teachers can ask for a written refection for homework.