Poetry, at times, can be challenging to many middle school students. Therefore, it is my duty to provide the necessary tools to aid students in comprehension. In poetry, devices that help the reader understand the message are called figurative language. It includes similes, metaphors, alliteration, personification, hyperbole, and meter to name the most relevant.
After a quick review and vocabulary search, we read the poem. “Oranges” by Gary Soto, this is a memory from the poet’s past. In my introduction, I asked my students if they had gone on a first date. I requested that they remember their feelings and put themselves in the poet’s place. The memory is so significant, that the author recalls the touch, sounds, and images of that day. It is a poem that appeals to the senses.
After this brief explanation, I knew I had immediately captured the interest of my students because of the conflict. The twelve-year-old boy is weighted down with apprehension by his limited resources – a nickel and two oranges. My boys held their breath and glanced at each other when the poet’s girlfriend chooses a chocolate that costs a dime. My girls glanced at each other as a childish, innocent smile appeared on their faces.
As we read and reached the conclusion, I realized that my students had made a personal connection, that they had understood the poem, and most importantly that they had comprehended the message. The moment that I perceived that my students finally pictured the real-life situation, applied their prior knowledge, and made connections to the poem…. that is when my heart soars with satisfaction and happiness.
In the poem, the oranges symbolize hope, confidence and love, and that is what I feel for my students. My “Oranges” make my day, every day.
Susana Al Hassan, 6B