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 feeling that can be deeply and universally understood by its readers. This makes it even more important to be able to expound its elements and understand its rich meaning, comparisons, and symbols. Teaching students to look at a poem with an order of operation in mind will greatly help them to understand and see beyond the literal words. Using the TPCASTT method is the perfect way to get students reading and analyzing with little assistance from the instructor.

TPCASTT is a great way to teach students to dissect a poem and understand its part and deeper meaning. TPCASTT is an order of operations similar to PEMDAS for Math. It asks students to list items in sequentially and answer questions based on their reading of the poem.

TPCASTT Example for "The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica"



“The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica” is, perhaps, about a place that the speaker visits frequently.


The poem describes a store where Latinos gather. Despite their differences, many Latinos in the United States find themselves connected by their experiences and life in America. The speaker of the poem mentions the specific foods and customs of various Latino groups that visit the deli, what makes them unique, and what ties them together. As the customers express memories of their home countries and their American Dreams, a sense of unity is conveyed for all people of Latino heritage.


The poem expresses both uniqueness and individuality among Hispanic backgrounds. It also conveys a complex feeling of homesickness and nostalgia, and how these feelings are mediated through the food the deli sells.


Ortiz Cofer achieves her tone with words that suggest a strong tie to the past, such as ancient, exiles, lost lovers, stale, old man, and “places that now exist only in their hearts”. Her word choice presents an attitude of longing for something that once was. The tone is nostalgic for the past and for the cultures of the people in the poem.


No shift occurs.


After reading the poem my interpretation of the title was correct. The speaker romanticizes a Latino deli where members from various Hispanic backgrounds gather.


The theme of the poem is one of unity; despite coming from various background, their common language and their experience as immigrants create a bond for among these Latinos in the United States.

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

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Perform a TPCASTT analysis of "The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica". 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.

Lesson Plan Reference

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


(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 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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The Latin Deli An Ars Poetica

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