Sunday, 12 August 2012

The SIFT Method for Literature Analysis

I've written about Teaching Channel before, and I'll be writing from time to time about a particular great idea I've found there. If you haven't already joined, remember that it's FREE, and signing up takes less than a minute!

One of the many great Tch video clips shows middle school teacher Meagan Berkowitz teaching a poetry lesson using the SIFT Method - Symbol, Imagery, Figurative Language, and Tone or Theme. It's less than 5 minutes long, and well worth watching to see her interaction with her students, and the focus they have on the poems they are reading while using bookmark cue cards. Close analytic reading is an important feature of the Common Core; here's a tool for you to try out to see if it fits your needs!

Besides the bookmark, you are given the lesson plan, a copy of  the two poems used, and a transcript of the lesson. If you're a language arts teacher, you're all set to try this lesson yourself, or to adapt it to your grade level! And don't forget to "pin" the lesson  by clicking "Save this in my Lesson Planner."

(A note: there is a typo on the SIFT bookmark that you'll want to change before printing - "attitude and author" should be "attitude an author." I changed it in the image above. Since it's an open Word document, it's no problem!)


  1. I agree and have referred back to this video often. I used the SIFT method with my strategic core class because it helped them to break a more difficult piece of poetry into understandable chunks; it made sense to them. Of course this was later in the year after they understood different forms of figurative language.

  2. Hi, Nancy! Thanks for stopping by, Poetry Lovers to thank me for linking to your blog. I found your SIFT article very interesting. Thanks for sharing the knowledge. I hope you decide to stick around at Scribophile.

    Sincerely, k cotton

  3. I love this strategy. I added a P to the end for paraphrase and exaggerated the pronunciation with the students. We sifted a poem a day for ten days. We took an assessment shortly afterward and my students jumped twenty points on the poetry objective. This is by far one of the best ways to analyze poetry with students.