In this activity, students will visit The Bells Web page to learn that listening to the melodic sounds and rhythm of the words of a poem often tells you a great deal about a poem that you might not have learned by simply reading it.
This activity can be completed using a variety of technology configurations. If a computer lab is available, students can access the activity, worksheets and Web pages through Thinkport.
Another option is to display the activity and Web page on a classroom computer with a projection device. In this case, students will need a copy of each worksheet.
In this activity, students will be introduced to the way Poe used words to create the tone of a poem. Students will read lines from “The Bells” and, based on the tone of each line, predict which of the life stages the stanzas are referring to.
Write the following lines from ”The Bells” (one line from each stanza) on the board and opposite the poem lines write the words: newborn, wedding, life problem or crisis, and death. Make sure that the order of the stanzas and the words newborn, wedding, etc. are mixed up when you write them on the board.
What a world of merriment their melody foretells! (Answer-Newborn child)
In the silence of the night, How we shiver with affright. (Answer-Death)
How the danger ebbs and flows: (Answer-Life problem or crisis)
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells! (Answer-Wedding)
Ask students to predict which line from the poem goes with which topic, and discuss the reasons for their choices.
The focus for viewing the Poe narrative on the Bells web page is for students to determine if they agree with the Poe (John Astin) statement that music with a pleasurable idea is poetry.
1. Explain to students that they will be listening to a video clip about Poe’s thoughts on the importance of music and melodic words in poetry. After listening to the clip, they will decide whether or not they agree with Poe. Then, ask the students to open The Bells Web page at http://knowingpoe.thinkport.org/writer/thebells.asp and click on the play button to view the John Astin video segment. (A script of this segment can be accessed by going to the Classroom Connections page of Knowing Edgar Allan Poe at http://knowingpoe.thinkport.org/classconn/ ) After listening to the video segment, ask students if they agree with Poe’s statement that music with a pleasurable idea is poetry.
2. Explain to students that music or melodic words and sounds is very important to poetry and listening to the melodic sounds and rhythm of the words of a poem often tells you a great deal about the poem that you might not have learned by simply reading it. Tell the students to open The Bells Web page at http://knowingpoe.thinkport.org/writer/thebells.asp and launch The Bells poem interactive. Encourage students to experiment with the voice, sound effects and music buttons as they listen to the poem.
After students have listened to the poem, ask them if they agree with the statement that listening to the melodic sounds and rhythm of the words often tells you a great deal about the poem that you might not have learned by simply reading it.
The focus for viewing The Bells poem interactive is for the students to determine the tone of each stanza by listening to the sounds and rhythm of the words.
3. Divide the class into small groups and assign each group one of the stanzas of the poem. Ask students to listen to their assigned stanza, making sure that the emotion in the voice, music and sound effect buttons are all checked. Ask students to complete the Bells, Bells, Bells Worksheet as they listen to their stanza to determine the tone of their assigned stanza. Remind the students that they will probably need to listen to the poem several times with the emotion, music and sound effect buttons to complete the worksheet and determine the tone.
Have each group report to the class on their stanza. In the order in which the stanza appears in the poem, have each group summarize the meaning of the stanza, the tone they think Poe is trying to convey and the melodic words or phrases that help set the tone. Discuss how Poe’s words create the sounds and images needed to create the tone of the stanza.
1. Pass out blank pieces of paper and colored pencils. Tell students to free draw while they listen to the stanza one more time in order to capture the tone of their stanza in a drawing. When students have finished their drawings, hang them up in order on the classroom wall. Discuss how the drawings convey the tone of each stanza.
2. Have students write a three-stanza school bell poem that describes how they feel when they hear the morning, lunch and closing bells during their school day. Remind students to use language sounds and sensory details to help create the tone of the poem. Students may record themselves reading their poem and use music and sound effects to enhance the poem.
3. Have students invent characters and events to create a four-act play based on "The Bells."