Lesson Plan from the CoBaLTT Project
Submitted by Adapted from the POLIA
Cultural Theme or
Academic Content Area:
are the standards targeted for this lesson.
You may want to print this lesson (frame) so that you can
highlight the activities and assessments that indicate the
standards targeted. Located at the end of this page is a discussion
of why the CoBaLTT staff feels each standard has been targeted
Traditional Middle School, 2
To demonstrate an understanding of different perspectives
on cultural themes.
A dialogue poem (see sample provided) offers an excellent
opportunity to assess students' understanding of different
perspectives on cultural themes. A dialogue poem reflects
a dialogue between two people who represent different perspectives
on a particular theme, issue, or topic. For example, in the
sample provided, two women, one representing the peasant or
working class and one representing the elite, discuss their
experiences after the election of Salvador Allende as president
of Chile and after his murder during the military coup in
1973. Controversial themes such as the one portrayed in the
sample poem work especially well, but dialogue poems also
lend themselves well to any theme. For instance, a dialogue
poem between a U.S. student and a target culture student discussing
their birthday celebrations (or another holiday) provides
a good way of getting students' understanding of the different
In order for students to have the background knowledge necessary
for writing dialogue poems, the teacher needs to provide them
with multiple resources for exploring the perspectives during
the pre-writing stage or to carry out a unit on a particular
theme, then assign the dialogue poem as a culminating project
at the end of the unit. Here we offer some examples of themes
that might be of interest and explain how a teacher might
go about organizing pre-writing, writing, and post-writing
Language: Content Obligatory
Language: Content Compatible
Learning Strategies / Skills Development / Social (optional):
Two to five fifty minute class sessions
Description of Task:
During the pre-writing stage, the teacher needs to provide students
with input about the different perspectives by using e-mail exchanges,
videotapes, magazines, and other print material, web sites, etc. (The
Gender Roles unit [in the
POLIA Handbook] offers a detailed example of how to go about this
exploration). This stage may last from one class session to several
weeks depending upon the depth of the exploration. It is also important
during the pre-writing stage to generate lists of potentially useful
vocabulary and to review or introduce particular grammatical forms
that will be necessary for creating the poems. The first-person singular
forms of various verb tenses, for example, are likely to emerge in
most dialogue poems. Subtle differences in language (and punctuation)
should also be discussed. For example, in the sample poem, the elite
woman says, "We had to eat rice," while the working class woman says,
"We had rice." The teacher should discuss these differences with students'
how might the subtle differences in language and punctuation cue differences
in intonation when the poem is read?
Dialogues poems can take a variety of forms but should always be
a reflection of different perspectives. These perspectives may be
distinct due to cultural differences, social class differences (such
as those demonstrated in the sample poem), gender or age differences,
etc. They may be perspectives between two distinct cultures (e.g.,
U.S. and target culture, France and Canada, Spain and Mexico, etc.)
or within a particular culture (e.g., Francophones and Anglophones
in Quebec; Catalanes and Castillians in Barcelona, etc.). They can
be reflective of modern times or historical times. The possibilities
are endless! A variety of examples follow.
1. Distinct perspectives between two cultures: Cross-cultural perspectives
in relationship to any number of themes could be explored by students
through dialogue poems. Here are some examples that might work well:
2. Distinct perspectives within a particular culture:
Any target language:
Pairs of students should be assigned to write the dialogue poem based
on the themes that the class has explored during the pre-writing stage.
The teacher may choose to require multiple drafts and peer review
activities fundamental to the process approach to writing (see the
task entitled "Lets go to Costa Rica!" in the section entitled rom
presentation to Creation" for a detailed explanation of all the stages
in the process approach to writing as found in the POLIA
The student pairs read or "perform" their dialogue poem for the class.
They should practice prior to reading the poem aloud so that the intonation
reflects the different perspectives in the poem. The teacher may want
to audiotape the performances to facilitate assessment. Extension:
Students could be paired via email with target culture keypals and
write online dialogue poems.
The teacher may choose to assess students' poems with a multitrait
rubric. While it is likely that the rubric will need to be fine-tuned
to align more closely with the content of the poems, it may also be
possible to use a more "generic " rubric such as the sample we provide.
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A Lesson Plan from the CoBaLTT Project
Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition
University of Minnesota
again are the standards targeted for this lesson.
From what you have read in the description of this lesson,
do you agree?
Click the button below to read the discussion that details
why (or why not) each standard is "targeted" by this lesson.