Discipline: ELA

Grade Level: 8

Course: Communication Arts

©Literacy Design Collaborative. September 2011

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Extended Metaphors in Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!”
  • Background to Share With Students
    • Have you ever had the same experience as a friend but had very different points of view about it? Public opinion surrounding Lincoln’s presidency and assassination varied widely. In this module, we will explore the question, “Does Walt Whitman adequately portray the sense of loss felt by Americans after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination?”

      You will read an excerpt from “Lincoln: A Photobiography” that focuses solely on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and its effect on American citizens during this time. We will then read and analyze Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!” You will summarize each stanza and make connections to “Lincoln: A Photobiography.”

  • Task/Text
    • Teaching Task

      Does Walt Whitman adequately portray the sense of loss felt by Americans after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination?  After reading “O Captain! My Captain!” and other informational texts, write an essay that addresses the question and support your position with evidence from the texts. L2 Be sure to acknowledge competing views.  L3 Give examples from past or current events or issues to illustrate and clarify your position.

      Reading Texts
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  • Content Standards
    • Standards Source: Number: Content Standards:

      Pennsylvania Department of Education Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening


      Expand a reading vocabulary by identifying and correctly using idioms and words with literal and figurative meanings.  Use a dictionary or related reference.


      Demonstrate after reading understanding and interpretation of both fiction and nonfiction text, including public documents.  


      Demonstrate fluency and comprehension in reading.


      Read and understand essential content of informational texts and documents in all academic areas.


      Read and understand works of literature.


      Analyze the use of literary elements by an author including characterization, setting, plot, theme, point of view, tone, and style.


      Analyze the effect of various literary devices.


      Read and respond to nonfiction and fiction including poetry and drama.


      Write persuasive pieces.


      Write with a sharp, distinct focus.


      Write using well-developed content appropriate for the topic.


      Write with controlled and/or subtle organization.


      Write with an understanding of the stylistic aspects of composition.


      Revise writing after rethinking logic of organization and rechecking central idea, content, paragraph development, level of detail, style, tone, and word choice.


      Edit writing using the conventions of language.

  • Reading Standards for Argumentation
    • "Built-In" Reading Standards "When Appropriate" Reading Standards (applicable in black)
      • 1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
      • 2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
      • 4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
      • 10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
      • 3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
      • 5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
      • 6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
      • 7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
      • 8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
      • 9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
  • Writing Standards for Argumentation
    • "Built-In" Writing Standards "When Appropriate" Writing Standards (applicable in black)
      • 1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
      • 4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
      • 5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
      • 9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
      • 10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audience.
      • 2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
      • 3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well- structured event sequences.
      • 6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
      • 7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
      • 8. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
  • Scoring Rubric
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