My Post for the “Disabled Access-Friendly World” Blog Challenge

I was very impressed by Marissa Constantinides’s initatiative to gather lesson plans for raising awareness of the members of our society with special needs, but I wasn’t sure what I could contribute. After reading Vicky Loras’s post on this topic which was based on a poem, I thought perhaps this lesson I have taught may be of use. It presents a poem by a deaf poet.

Since I teach deaf and hard of hearing students the motivation for teaching this poem was not to raise awareness but rather to show them that there are deaf poets writing about things these students can relate to. Perhaps for a class of hearing students it will serve the purpose Marissa intended. Here is the lesson plan in three parts. The full poem can be found at the end.

Part One

I began the lesson by writing the following on the board:

Solo Dining While Growing Up

A poem by Curtis Robbins*

Line 1: When my whole family sat down at the dinner table:

The students and I translated the title of the poem, emphasizing the meaning of the word “solo”. The vocabulary of the first line of the poem is quite simple so most of the students went on to read it themselves. I then asked them if they found any contradiction between the title and the first line. Some students saw it, some didn’t – why is he saying he ate alone when it clearly says that he sat with his whole family?

I then pointed to the asterisk after the name of the poet and wrote on the board:

* Curtis Robbins is a deaf poet.

Immediately, ALMOST the students (THAT was amazing!) got it – the poet felt he was dining alone even though his family was there because they were hearing people and he was deaf. The poet couldn’t follow the conversation over dinner. Some students pointed out that his family probably didn’t know sign language. Interesting to note that about a fourth of my students have deaf parents and did not grow up being left out at the dinner table, yet they immediately recognized the situation. Many students who do have hearing parents said they didn’t feel like that with their immediate family but have had this experience.

Part Two

On the board we brainstormed as many nouns as we could think of related to dining, such as forks, napkins and plates.  Now the students were able to read the following version of the poem (with missing words) which I handed out:

Solo Dining While Growing Up

When my whole family sat down at the dinner table:

There was always

a lot to eat from corner to corner

There was always _____________

between forks and spoons

There was always _____________

between glasses and cups

There was always ________________

between napkins

There were always

empty plates and empty bowls

But the knife that laid between them all-

from mouth to ear-

from mouth to eye –

_____  _______  ______.

Part Three

After making sure that everyone understood all the vocabulary items I told the students that the same word was missing in the first three blanks. As a collaborative effort we brainstormed what that word could be and then filled in the word “conversation”.

Then we discussed what the last three words could be. I pointed out that it is related to a knife, so they were able to come up with “cut” but did not know “cut off” (which I explained). They easily understood that the poet was the one feeling cut off so we quickly identified the word “me”. Then I wrote the missing three words which they copied in: “cut me off” .

I left time for students to express their feelings about the poem and to share any related stories, feelings or thoughts but this part was important for emotional / psychological reasons only – it was all done in Hebrew!

Here is the complete poem.

Solo Dining While Growing Up

9 thoughts on “My Post for the “Disabled Access-Friendly World” Blog Challenge”

  1. Hi Naomi!

    What a fantastic lesson plan – I loved it!

    I loved the way you presented the poem in fragments in the beginning and how you presented to them that the poet is deaf (and what a moving poem – I did not know about it).

    I also liked how you integrated other activities too – the kitchen utensils and then extended it to phrasal verbs.

    You are a wonderful teacher Naomi – I will repeat myself, but how I would love to sit in on one of your classes and see all the magic that happens there!

    Thank you very much for the mention as well.

    Kindest regards,

  2. Vicky!
    I’m glad you liked the lesson – wasn’t sure it would be of general interest.
    I read your interview and discovered we like alot of the same things (except Coke…). Did you see my comment there?
    Welcome to my classes any time!

  3. That is great that we have so many things in common, books and Amelie only two of them – you don’t like Coke, eh? Sometimes I wish I didn’t either!

    Your lesson plan was super! I have forwarded it to other colleagues of mine and friends who are also teachers. Loved it!

    Have a great weekend,

  4. It hadn’t occured to me that this lesson would be relevant to others till I read YOUR lesson!
    Exciting to discover otherwise!

  5. Hi, Naomi. Thanks for the inspiring lesson and to Marisa and Vicky for sparking off creativity in others. ‘Yes’, it seems ‘we can’ if we work together

  6. Luke!
    I don’t know who to credit the quote to but this sums it up nicely :
    “Everything I can do we can do better”!
    Thanks for stopping by!

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