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Activity Overview


Poetry is one of the most expressive forms of literature. It can evoke emotions, set a mood, tell a story, or create a deeply and universally understood feeling in its readers. This makes expounding its elements, and understanding its rich meaning, comparisons, and symbols, even more important.

The TP-CASTT method of poetry analysis is a great way to teach students to dissect a poem and understand its parts. It helps students to uncover the deeper meanings within poems while giving them the confidence to be self-educators. TP-CASTT Poetry Analysis is an order of operations similar to PEMDAS for math. It asks students to list items in sequential order and answer questions based on their reading of the poem.



TPCASTT Example for "On Being Brought from Africa to America" Analysis

T

TITLE

“On Being Brought from Africa to America” implies that the speaker will discuss a journey from Africa, presumably their home, to America, possibly as a slave.
P

PARAPHRASE

The first half of the poem explains that the speaker’s trip from Africa to America coincided with her becoming a Christian. In the last four lines she cautions others Christians to remember that even Africans can, like the speaker, find salvation in Christ.
C

CONNOTATION

Wheatley implies a strong and complex relationship between her religion and her slavery. She reminds Americans that black people are not evil and that before God, all Christians are equal, no matter their race.
A

ATTITUDE/TONE

Words like “mercy”, “Pagan”, “Savior”, “redemption”, “diabolical”, and “angelic” reinforce the religious nature of the poem and create a contrast in the speaker’s life before and after her enslavement. Her tone is straightforward, compassionate, and deeply personal, but also gently admonishing.
S

SHIFTS

A shift occurs at the middle of the poem. The speaker switches from describing her own life to pointing out the implications of her story. Within the second half of the poem there is a shift between the two couplets; the speaker ends by directly addressing Christian readers.
T

TITLE

After reading the poem, my interpretation of the title was partially correct. The narrator, who was once a slave, was brought to America, where she became a Christian. Her journey from Africa to America was one of enslavement, but coincided with her salvation.
T

THEME

The theme of Christianity echoes through each line of this poem. Salvation overshadows enslavement in the transformative journey, and she urges readers to remember that all Christians are equal before God.

This is a great activity to have students do in a small group. Once students are finished, ask them to create a storyboard with the TPCASTT steps.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-12

Difficulty Level 4 (Difficult / Complex)

Type of Assignment Individual, Partner, or Group

Type of Activity: TPCASTT Poetry Analysis

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/5] Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/7] Compare and contrast the experience of reading a story, drama, or poem to listening to or viewing an audio, video, or live version of the text, including contrasting what they “see” and “hear” when reading the text to what they perceive when they listen or watch


Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)



Student Instructions

Perform a TPCASTT analysis of "On Being Brought from Africa to America". Remember that TPCASTT stands for Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude/Tone, Shift, Title, Theme.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Choose any combination of scenes, characters, items, and text to represent each letter of TPCASTT.
  3. Write a few sentences describing the importance or meaning of the images.
  4. Finalize images, edit, and proofread your work.



Rubric

(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)



TPCASTT Analysis Rubric Template
Analyze a poem using the the TPCASTT method: Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude/Tone, Shift, Title, Theme.
Proficient Emerging Beginning Needs Improvement
TPCASTT Responses
Every part of TPCASTT was thoroughly answered and there was sufficient evidence from the text.
Most parts of TPCASTT was answered with sufficient evidence to support claims.
Less than half of TPCASTT was answered and/or responses had insufficient evidence from the text.
Examples and descriptions are missing or too minimal to score.
Depictions
Depictions chosen for each section are accurate to the poem and reflect time, effort, thought, and care with regard to placement and creation of the scenes.
Depictions chosen for each section are mostly accurate to the poem. They reflect time and effort put into placement and creation of the scenes.
Depictions chosen for each section are inaccurate to the poem. The depictions may be rushed or show minimal effort, time, and care put into placement and creation of the scenes.
Most depictions are missing too many elements or are too minimal to score. Little time or effort has been put into placement and creation of the scenes.
English Conventions
There are no errors in spelling, grammar, or mechanics throughout the storyboard. All writing portions reflect careful proofreading and accuracy to the poem.
There are a few errors in spelling, grammar, and mechanics throughout the storyboard. All writing portions show accuracy to the poem and some proofreading.
There are several errors in spelling, grammar, and mechanics throughout the storyboard. Most writing portions do not reflect proofreading or accuracy to the poem.
Errors in spelling, grammar, and mechanics in writing portions of the storyboard seriously interfere with communication.




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