One way to increase student understanding of difficult poems is to ask them to paraphrase stanza by stanza. Storyboards can be a good way for struggling students to visualize the events in each stanza. For “A Poison Tree”, have students depict the main events of each of the four stanzas. Then, below each image, ask them to write a brief paraphrase of the stanza using proper grammar and appropriate transitional words and phrases.
The speaker tells his friend what has upset him, they work it out, and the speaker is no longer angry. The speaker doesn't tell his enemy what makes him angry. When he bottles it up, his anger increases.
The speaker imagines reasons to fear his enemy. His fears and frustrations increase his animosity. But the speaker is not honest with his enemy. He smiles at him and acts friendly, building up a deceitful relationship lacking in trust.
The speaker’s anger is like a glittering poison that attracts both the speaker and his enemy. Anger and hate become appealing to the speaker, and his enemy is fooled by his deceitful behavior.
The enemy tries to take advantage of the speaker, but the speaker is one step ahead of him. The speaker’s secret anger poisons and kills his enemy.
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Create a storyboard that paraphrases and illustrates each stanza of the poem "A Poison Tree".
Grade Level 6-12
Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)
Type of Assignment Individual or PartnerCommon Core Standards