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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 TPCASTT 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. TPCASTT 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 "Sonnet 73"

T

TITLE

[Since the sonnet is a number, consider having students look at the first line instead] “That time of year thou mayst in me behold”
  • The narrator might be talking about a special time of year, or a holiday.
P

PARAPHRASE

[Short Version- Expand the storyboard if you would like your students to do it by stanza, quatrain, or couplet]:
  • The narrator is comparing his increasing age to things like fall/winter, twilight/night, and dying embers from a fire. At the end, he says that love and appreciation can increase when time is running out.
[Long Version]:
  • In the first quatrain, the narrator compares his increasing age with the end of fall and the beginning of winter. This is the time of year when things begin to wither and go bare.
  • In the second quatrain, the narrator says he is twilight left behind after the sun sets, which then becomes black night, Death’s counterpart. Death brings everyone to eternal rest.
  • In the third quatrain, the narrator says that he is like the dying embers left behind by a raging fire, the embers lying on top of the ashes like lying on their own deathbed, the ashes consuming the embers.
  • In the final couplet, the narrator says that despite all of the images of dying in the last three quatrains, the love for him increases because he will not be around for much longer.
C

CONNOTATION

The narrator’s use of metaphor for the seasons, twilight, and a dying fire seem like he is concerned with the passing of time, and with how time has aged him. The lessening of time creates a sense of urgency to love more strongly and cherish things more closely.
A

ATTITUDE/TONE

Shakespeare uses words like bare, ruined, fadeth, death, ashes, deathbed, expire, and consumed to invoke images of death and time running out. The words are depressing and somewhat desperate.
S

SHIFTS

A shift occurs in the final couplet when the narrator points out that the effect of getting older is that one must love the time he has more strongly, and cherish the little things.
T

TITLE

After reading the poem, my prediction about the title was incorrect, since Shakespeare did not focus on a time of year, but discussed the passage of time that leads to death.
T

THEME

Love strongly and spend your time wisely because you never know how much time is left.

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

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 9-12

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual

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 "Sonnet 73". 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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Sonnet 73





Image Attributions
  • clock face snip • sammydavisdog • License Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)


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