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ELA G7:M1:U2:L17

Launching the Performance Task: Planning the Two-Voice Poem

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of characters and narrators in a literary text. (RL 7.6)
  • I can write narrative texts about real or imagined experiences using relevant details and event sequences that make sense. (W 7.3)

Supporting Targets

Learning TargetsOngoing Assessments
  • I can plan and write a two voice poem that compares and contrasts how Salva and Nya survived in the challenging environment of South Sudan. 
  • I can gather evidence from A Long Walk to Water for my two voice poem.
  • Two voice Poem: Gathering Evidence graphic organizer (middle three columns)


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Vocabulary Entry Task (10 minutes)

2.  Work Time 

A. Introducing Performance Task and Selecting Organizing Ideas (15 minutes)

B. Gathering Textual Evidence from the Novel (15 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

A. Turn and Talk (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

A. Read Author’s Note in A Long Walk to Water; complete vocabulary work and text-dependent questions (see Author’s Note homework assignment).

  • At this point, students have completed the drafts of their survival essays. They will revise those essays in Lesson 19, after you have had time to review their drafts and provide feedback.
  • Thus, in this lesson, students are introduced to the Final Performance Task: a research-based two voice poem (see stand-alone document on This lesson includes a student-friendly version of this longer stand-alone document. 
  • In Lessons 17 and 18, students are introduced to the task of writing their two voice poem. Note that it is preferable but not essential to use this whole period for preparing to write the poem. If some students have not finished their essays, it’s possible to condense the second part of the lesson and build in some writing time. Students who have finished writing the essay could begin their homework during this time.
  • Students select a theme for their poems and gather textual evidence from the novel and from informational texts to support that theme. They will read one new informational text: the Author’s Note in A Long Walk to Water. Point out to students that this specific poem is “research-based”. The poem will give them a chance to be creative, but is not just from their imagination. They will cite evidence, staying grounded in the texts they have been reading throughout the module.
  • The reading of the Author’s Note has two purposes: to continue to build students’ background knowledge about the historical context of the novel; and, even more important, to help students begin to think of themselves as writers. They, like Linda Sue Park, can and should intentionally craft a message for their readers, so they will be making deliberate decisions about word choice, etc. 
  • Students have been talking about how the choices Park made allowed her readers to compare and contrast Salva and Nya. As they begin to think about their poems, students will consider how they want to compare and contrast these characters, and what their choices as writers will be. 
  • The first choice is one they will make today: What do they want their poem to focus on? Selecting a focus at the beginning of the writing process will help them collect evidence from both the novel and informational texts. They are likely to draw on the claims they made in their essays as they choose their themes today. Writing the essay first should have deepened students’ thinking about survival and will help them create more thoughtful, nuanced poems. Help students see the connection between the focus of their essay and the focus of their poem: What message are they trying to send to their readers? 
  • Both Parts A and B of Work Time include a teacher think-aloud about what you might write your own two voice poem about. Review this and prepare your think-aloud in advance. Choose a factor for your modeling that will have connections to informational text; strong candidates include water, walking, and aid organizations.
  • In advance: On the Survival anchor chart, put a star next to ideas that also are discussed in the informational texts the class has read.
  • Review the Author’s Note in A Long Walk to Water.
  • Review the Performance Task Prompt and the Two voice Poem rubric. Although students will analyze the rubric before they start composing their poems, being familiar with it yourself will help you more effectively support students as they gather evidence in Lessons 17 and 18.
  • Post: Vocabulary Entry Task, Survival anchor chart, Salva/Nya anchor chart.



compare, contrast; (from Author’s Note in A Long Walk to Water) fictionalized (118), depict (118), duration (118), coalition (118), displaced (118), languished (119), accord (119), autonomy (119)

  • Vocabulary Entry Task (one per student)
  • Author’s Note homework assignment (one per student)
  • Performance Task Prompt: Two voice Poem (one per student)
  • Model Two-Voice Poem: “I Would Do Anything” (one per student)
  • Two voice Poem Rubric (Look ahead to Unit 3, Lesson 3 for actual rubric; see Teaching Note above)
  • Two voice Poem: Gathering Evidence graphic organizer (one per student)
  • Two voice Poem: Gathering Evidence graphic organizer (for Teacher Reference)
  • A Long Walk to Water (book; one per student) 
  • Salva/Nya anchor chart (begun in Lesson 2)
  • Survival anchor chart (begun in Lesson 1)
  • Students’ Gathering Textual Evidence graphic organizer, all chapters (from Lessons 3–9; students’ completed copies)
  • Students’ Reader’s Notes, all chapters (from Lessons 2–9; students’ completed copies)



A. Vocabulary Entry Task (10 minutes) 

  • Post the Vocabulary Entry Task in advance: 

* “Some of the details in this story have been fictionalized, but the major events depicted are based on Salva’s own experiences.” 

  1. What do the words fictionalized and depicted remind you of? What do you think they mean?
  2. Rewrite the sentence in your own words. 
  • After students have completed the task, cold call several of them to share their thinking. Ask them:

* “What do you think the root word in fictionalized is? How did that help you figure out what this word means?” 

  • Listen for students to mention fiction, and clarify that this is a made-up, imaginary story.

* “What is the root word for depict?” 

  • Listen for someone to say, “picture.” Share that the root word “pict” is from the Latin for paint. Ask them how the meaning of depict relates to painting. Listen for them to connect an actual painting with describing something in words so that it can be seen just as a painting is seen.
  • Distribute the Author’s Note homework assignment, calling students’ attention to the words that are defined for them, and also placing this assignment in the larger context of the class’s shift from thinking primarily as readers of a literary text to thinking primarily as authors of a literary text.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Introducing Performance Task and Selecting Organizing Ideas (15 minutes)

  • Celebrate the strong work that students have done in their essays. Comment on the strengths you have noticed in how they analyzed the novel. Tell them that in a few days, they will have a chance to revise the essay they wrote, but that you’ll need a few days to look over their work and give them feedback. 
  • Tell them that in the meantime, they will start preparing to write another piece. Direct their attention to the learning targets and explain that they will be writing a two voice poem that compares and contrasts Salva’s and Nya’s experiences, especially as they relate to survival in South Sudan. 
  • Just as Park got to think about what she really wanted to communicate about Salva, Nya, and the Sudan, students will get to choose some important ideas and craft and perform a poem that communicates them. Highlight that writing this poem is a chance for students to use their creativity and encourage other people, especially people who don’t know about Sudan or haven’t read the novel, to understand more about the situation there and how it affects teenagers. This is a good time to build enthusiasm by discussing the format or venue in which students will share their final work. 
  • Turn and talk: 

* “What is one thing you have learned in this module that you think it is important for other teenagers to know?”

  • Distribute the Performance Task Prompt: Two voice Poem and the Model Two voice Poem. Ask students to follow along while you read the poem out loud once all the way through. 
  • Then ask seat partners to read the poem out loud: One person reads character A, the other person reads character B, and they choral read the parts in the middle. 
  • Remind them that they are both reading the parts in the middle because both characters can say those statements. Check their understanding by asking:

* “Would the center column count as a comparison or a contrast between the two characters?” 

  • Listen for them to remember that comparing means noticing similarities and differences, while contrasting means noticing differences. Remind students that they discussed the difference between comparing and contrasting earlier in their studies (Unit 1, Lesson 4).
  • After students have read the poem, ask them to read the Performance Task Prompt and underline the main aspects of the task. 
  • Think-Pair-Share: 

* “How will a two voice poem allow you to compare and contrast Salva and Nya?”

* “How will you use the novel and informational texts?”

  • Listen for students to notice that one side will be Salva, the other side will be Nya, and the middle will be the things they have in common. Listen for students also to notice that they will use evidence from various informational texts they have read, as well as from the novel. 
  • Tell students that all strong pieces of writing have a focus and a purpose. In their essays, they made a claim about survival and supported it with evidence. In order to write a strong poem, they will also need a focus, and they can choose several ideas to focus on. Tell students that they may use some of the thinking they did for the essay in this poem. 
  • Reread the part of the Performance Task Prompt that directs them to focus on ways that Salva and Nya survived, as well as the part that requires they use evidence from both the novel and informational texts. Tell them that today they will be choosing which factors in survival they want to write about. 
  • Direct students’ attention to the Survival anchor chart. Explain that ideas that are starred have evidence in both informational texts and the novel. Today they need to choose one to three factors in survival that their poem will center on. At least one factor they choose must have a star. 
  • Think aloud about how you might select one, highlighting what is compelling, significant, and well-understood by you (the hypothetical writer). Refer to the Salva/Nya anchor chart as you think aloud, to show students how an author sometimes chooses a very specific moment and then builds out from there to a theme. 
  • For the modeling you do in this lesson, you may wish to use the example on the Two voice Poem: Gathering Evidence graphic organizer (teacher’s edition), or you may generate one of your own. In either case, plan to model the outer columns of the chart in Lesson 18 with the same factor you are modeling here in Lesson 17. Also, plan to write down your work as you model (or use a filled in graphic organizer) and leave it posted so students can refer to it as they work.
  • Distribute the Two voice Poem: Gathering Evidence graphic organizer
  • Turn and talk: 

* “Which factors do you want to focus on in your poem? Why?”

  • Ask students to choose from one to three factors in survival they will focus on, and to write them in the middle column of the graphic organizer. Invite several students to share their choices and the reasons behind those choices. Help the class notice that writers often begin by selecting ideas that move, inspire, or intrigue them – the job of the piece of writing is to share not just the idea, but the feeling that those ideas gave the writer.

  •  This read-aloud builds a familiarity with the structure of a two voice poem in a way that hearing it read by one person or reading it silently cannot do.
  • When reviewing the graphic organizers or recording forms, consider using a document camera to visually display the document for students who struggle with auditory processing.
  • Providing models of expected work supports all learners but especially supports challenged learners.

B. Gathering Textual Evidence from the Novel (15 minutes)

  • When all students have chosen a few survival factors to focus on, model briefly how they will use the Salva/Nya chart and the Gathering Textual Evidence graphic organizer (the one they used to gather quotes about survival in A Long Walk to Water) to fill out the two columns on either side of the middle column. 
  • As you model, write up your example where students will be able to refer to it. Be clear about when you are paraphrasing or summarizing (usually) or where you are noting quotations (rarely, and limited to particularly powerful use of language by the author). Choose a factor for your modeling that will have connections to informational text; strong candidates include water, walking, and aid organizations.
  • After you model, tell the students that now they will now have about 10 minutes to do this work for their own ideas. Be sure students have their texts A Long Walk to Water. Direct the students to use the Salva/Nya chart, their Reader’s Notes, and their Gathering Textual Evidence graphic organizer to add ideas to the two columns on their own charts. Set a goal for them to accomplish by the end of the period. For example, you might encourage them to find an example for Salva and an example for Nya for one factor. Assure them that they will have time to revisit this chart in the next lesson.
  • Consider collecting these charts and look them over before the next lesson, to make sure that all students have made choices that will ensure they can write strong poems. Lesson 18 includes a time for students to read over any feedback, as well as a time when you could confer with students who need extra support in selecting a focus.

During this work time, you may want to pull a small group of students to support in finding evidence from the novel. Some students will need more guided practice before they are ready for independent work.

Closing & Assessments


A. Turn and Talk (5 minutes) 

  • Ask students to turn and talk: 

* “Compare the essay and the poem.”

  • Cold call a few pairs of students to share their thoughts. Listen for them to notice that both the essay and the poem focus on survival and require the use of textual evidence; that the essay is about Salva and the poem about Salva and Nya; that the poem uses the novel and informational text; and that a poem is trying to convey experience rather than make an argument. 




  • Read the Author’s Note and complete the Author’s Note homework assignment.

Supporting Materials


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