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Best Practice:. SIFT Poetry Analysis Catherine Hillman EDUR 6961. Best Practice description. SIFT Method:

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best practice
Best Practice:

SIFT Poetry Analysis

Catherine Hillman

EDUR 6961

best practice description
Best Practice description

SIFT Method:

  • The SIFT Method is designed to help students learn to analyze poetry by focusing on specific poetic devices that appear within all poems. Students read a poem multiple times, with each reading focused on a different element, to gain a better understanding of a poem’s overall meaning and purpose. Through the analysis, students will annotate the text to identify elements and display their knowledge of the poem, which will ultimately prepare them to write a literary analysis paper.
how it works
How it works

How it Works:

Before using the SIFT Method, students will know and understand poetic devices including:

  • Rhyme Scheme
  • Imagery
  • Figurative Language (Simile/Metaphor/Personification, etc.)
  • Tone
  • Theme

This strategy aids students in their literary analysis and helps them write sustained arguments about literature, skills that are both relevant to the Common Core in terms of Reading and Writing standards.

Target Population:

This practice is best used in English classes as it is working primarily with poetry. It is ideal for grades 9-12.

  • We will read the sample poem, “Fire and Ice”, and go through the SIFT method together, annotating the text to identify each element at each stage of the reading.
  • We will discuss each element and determine the dominant one in the text and how it affects the poem’s overall meaning.
  • We will discuss strategies to approach writing about the poem and look at a sample literary analysis paper.
  • Have students work in groups and assign each student to be an “expert” on a particular element.
  • Allow visual learners to create visual representations of the elements in the poem. Allow kinesthetic learners to act out their interpretation of the poem.
  • Write a “class” literary analysis paper that all students contribute to in order to model analysis and lower affective filters.
  • Pair two companion poems together and have students work in pairs to compare and contrast the poems as they complete their analysis.
  • For gifted students, assign more challenging elements to identify and write about (ex. consonance, allusion, rhythm, etc.).
sift method
SIFT Method
  • You will need:
    • Copy of the poem (lit book or handout)
    • Four different color pens (blue, red, green, black)
  • Each pen will be used for a different step:
    • S tructure =BLUE
    • I magery = RED
    • FigurativeLanguage = GREEN
    • Tone / Theme = BLACK
steps to analyzing poetry structure
Steps to Analyzing Poetry: Structure
  • Read through poem
  • Structure
    • Identify rhyme scheme
    • Find breaks in rhyme scheme
    • Read through again and summarize each stanza
    • Identify why rhyme scheme is broken in certain stanzas
    • Determine if physicality (layout) of poem reflects anything in it
steps to analyzing poetry imagery and figurative language
Steps to Analyzing Poetry: Imagery and Figurative Language
  • Imagery
    • Read poem stanzas again
    • Identify the imagery
  • Figurative Language
    • Read poem stanzas again
    • Identify the various types of figurative language
    • Ex: metaphor, simile, allusion, personification, alliteration, assonance, consonance, anaphora, hyperbole, irony, onomatopoeia, parallelism, repetition
steps to analyzing poetry theme and tone
Steps to Analyzing Poetry: Theme and Tone
  • Theme and Tone
    • Read the poem again
    • Read the summaries you wrote for the stanzas
    • Identify the theme
    • Identify the tome
  • Look back over the page and whichever color is dominant at the end, focus on that area in your short-write (tone, figurative language, etc.)
sample poem
Sample: Poem


Taste desire

Know enough of hate

Fig. Lang.

Alliteration: “some say,” “world will,” “favor fire”

Assonance: “hold with those,” “if it”

“Fire and Ice”

by Robert Frost

  • Some say the world will end in fire,
  • Some say in ice.
  • From what I’ve tasted of desire
  • I hold with those who favor fire.
  • But if it had to perish twice,
  • I think I know enough of hate
  • To say that for destruction ice
  • Is also great
  • And would suffice.

Structure: Rhyme Scheme











Theme: Destruction of the world might be fire or iceand both will work but the speaker prefers ice.

Tone : matter-of-fact rather than emotional

Structure: Summary

World can end in fire or ice

Poet seems to prefer fire

Both ends would work

sample theme analysis
Sample: Theme Analysis

In the poem, “Fire and Ice,” Robert Frost uses a specific rhyme scheme to write about the destruction of the world in a single stanza lyric poem. At first, there does not seem to be a rhyme scheme, but when examined closer, a pattern emerges at the end of the lines: “fire,” “desire,” and “fire” (Frost 1-4). The main theme of the poem is that the world will end, but how it will end is unsure. These words form the specific A pattern in the rhyme scheme, showing that fire is important to this main theme since it may be how the world ends. Next, the rhyme scheme moves to the next idea with lines ending in a different rhyme: “ice,” “twice,” “ice,” and “suffice” (2, 5, 7, 9). The words in rhyme scheme pattern B emphasize the other half of the main theme. The poem now states that the world may end in ice instead of fire. Finally, a comparison of the two patterns shows the speaker’s view of the destruction of the world: “I hold with those who favor fire” (4). Despite this statement, the B rhyme scheme for ice has four rhymes, while the A rhyme scheme for fire only has three. Although the speaker states a preference for fire, the poem’s rhyme scheme shows the preference is really for ice, since ice is emphasized by more lines. Analyzing the rhyme scheme of Frost’s poem reveals the speaker’s true opinion how the world should be destroyed—by ice instead of fire.