Ask the class to follow along as you read the first 2 stanzas aloud. Return to the beginning of the first stanza and use the following questions to guide comprehension as you work through the poem together. Students should briefly share these responses with a partner before you call on one for an answer. (15 minutes)
FIRST STANZA (Shift: Text-based answers)
1 Listen, my children, and you shall hear
2 Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
To whom is the poet speaking?
What historical character is the poem going to be about?
3 On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
4 Hardly a man is now alive
5 Who remembers that famous day and year
Tell students that “hardly a man” means “almost no one”.
When does the poem take place?
What does this tell us about when Longfellow wrote the poem? 
1 He said to his friend, “If the British march
2 By land or sea from the town to-night,
3 Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
4 Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
Tell students that “aloft” means “up high”.
Who is talking?
To whom is he talking?
Where does Paul Revere tell his friend to go?
What does Revere want his friend to look for?
5 One if by land, and two if by sea;
6 And I on the opposite shore will be,
Explain that “shore” is “the edge of a body of water, in this case, a river”
What will 1 light mean?
What will 2 lights mean?
Where will Paul Revere be?
7 Ready to ride and spread the alarm
8 Through every Middlesex Village and farm,
9 For the country folk to be up and to arm.
Additional definitions you may need to introduce: (Shift: Academic vocabulary)
alarm- a warning
Middlesex- an area of Massachusetts (expect giggles)
arm- to get weapons
What will Paul Revere do when he sees the signal? (Shift:Text-based answers)
Why will he ride? Why is he going to such trouble?
- FLUENCY ACTIVITY (15 minutes): Divide the class into three groups for a three-voice reading of the poem. Students don’t necessarily have to sit together as long as they are sitting in roughly the same area as the rest of their group. Group 1 will read the lines written in bold font. Group 2 will read the lines written in regular font. Group 3 will read the lines written in italics. Have groups practice their parts and circle the rhyming words they find in their lines. Perform the 2 stanzas as a class, with each group reading its part. Do this at least twice.
Differentiation: Struggling readers may benefit from having their copies of the poem pre-scooped for fluency phrasing.
DAY 2: (Shift: Staircase of Complexity)
- Ask students to reread the stanzas from Day 1 aloud in the same choral parts. Elicit from the class what Paul Revere was trying to find out and what the pre-arranged signal was. Have students respond to a partner before calling on individuals to answer. (5 minutes)
- Hand out stanza 7 of the poem (attached). (Shift: Academic vocabulary)
As students work independently to read the text, gather ELLs and special needs students to introduce the verbs used in this stanza. As you introduce each of the following verbs, give each a movement or gesture and have students repeat word and movement: walk, pat, gaze, stamp, turn, tighten, watch, look, spring, linger. (10 minutes)
- Read the new stanza to the class as students follow along. (Shift: Text-based answers) Go through it using the following questions to guide comprehension. Have students respond briefly to a partner before calling on one student. (10 minutes)
1 Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
2 Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
3 On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
4 Now he patted his horse’s side,
5 Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
6 Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
7 And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
Define spurs for students. (Shift: Academic vocabulary) Show ELLs the visual for saddle.
Explain that “impetuous” means “unplanned and without self-control”.
Where was Paul Revere waiting? (Shift: Text-based answers)
How did Paul Revere feel as he waited? What evidence from the text supports this?
8 But mostly he watched with eager search
9 The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
10 As it rose above the graves on the hill,
11 Lonely and spectral and somber and still.
Tell students that spectral means ghostly.
Why was he mostly watching the belfry tower?
12 And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
13 A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
Suddenly, what does he see?
14 He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
15 But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
16 A second lamp in the belfry burns.
Does he ride away? What in the text tells us? Why does he keep waiting?
Try to elicit from students the meaning of “lingers”.
What does he see next?
What is the significance (importance) of a second lamp?
What does Paul Revere intend (plan) to do now?
- FLUENCY ACTIVITY: Use the same procedures as Day 1 for the three groups to circle rhyming words and practice and perform a three-voice reading of this stanza. Perform twice.
5. Ask students to identify the verbs in lines 3-16. They can do this with a partner or as a class. Compile a list of the verbs Longfellow used. List them on a chart or board in order, one below the other: walked, patted, gazed, stamped, turned, tightened, watched, rose, looks, springs, turns, lingers, gazes, burns.
Ask students what they notice about the verbs. [Longfellow used the past tense at the beginning of the stanza then switched to present tense.]
Ask students why they think Longfellow decided to change tenses. How does this alter the mood of the poem? [Gives a sense of action and urgency. We are experiencing the events at the same time they are happening. They become part of our present.] (10 minutes)
- Have students re-read the three stanzas in choral parts. (5 minutes)
- Display and review the chart of verbs compiled yesterday, but change all to the past tense. To support ELLs, repeat accompanying gestures or motions. (5 minutes)
- Students will work to retell “Paul Revere’s Ride” in correct sequence, and using the past tense by completing one of the following: (Shift: Writing from sources)
a) Write a diary entry for Paul Revere in which he relates (tells) what he did last night, April 18, 1775. Students will use their own words, but should be encouraged to incorporate (use) verbs and vocabulary from the poem.
b) Create a sequenced comic strip set of drawings to illustrate Paul Revere’s actions that night. Based on students’ language levels and needs, they may either choose to use one or two word labels with past-tense verbs or else full-sentence captions.
NOTE: Before students begin this independent activity, give them time to retell the events orally. Let them do this with partners before sharing out and then working independently. Explain that they will be scored according to how well they use details from the poem to describe Paul Revere’s night. This encourages close reading of the text. They must retell events in the correct sequence and using the past tense. (10 minutes oral practice; 20 minutes to write, use any remaining time for students to share)
Differentiation: To support ELLs and students with special needs, you may post a list of signal words to assist them in retelling the narrative (first, next, then, after that, meanwhile, in the meantime, while, later, suddenly, all of a sudden, last, at last, finally)
This activity may be extended an additional day if desired. This 4th period would allow time for revision and a more polished final piece. When finished, students can share their work with one another. They can also collaborate with peers on the enrichment activities.
ENRICHMENT: (Balancing Informational & Literary Texts)
Students will access the Paul Revere Heritage Project website: www.paul-revere-heritage.com
[or use print-outs]
- They can challenge themselves to read aloud the complete text of the poem and recite portions to the class.
- They can examine Longfellow’s use of past/present tense throughout the poem
- They can view a picture gallery that includes a portrait of Paul Revere.
- They can also read a section on myths and facts about Paul Revere’s ride and share how the true account differs from Longfellow’s version.
Formative Assessment: Choral reading of rhyming portions of the poem; identification of rhyming patterns; working collaboratively; demonstrating comprehension by answering questions with partners and sharing-out to class
Summative Assessment: Written/illustrated retelling of 4/18/1775 events
Writing Rubric: Scoring of retell from 1-4. Does the student retell Paul Revere’s actions in the correct sequence and using the past tense correctly?
- Detailed retelling with beginning, middle and end
- Past tense is used correctly.
- Retelling includes some details with a beginning, middle and end.
- Past tense is used correctly most of the time.
- Retelling includes only a few details and may not have a beginning, middle and end.
- There may be errors in verb tense.
- Retelling includes only one or two details.
- There may be errors in verb tense.
I chose the Longfellow poem because I wanted a text that was not limited to a specific textbook or program. I also hoped that the drama of the story and the rhyme and rhythm of the language would motivate students, particularly ELLs, through a challenging text.
The most daunting initial challenge was to create differentiation strategies for ELLs. I needed to ensure that they would be able to follow the text while not over-guiding other students. Another difficult part of planning was deciding what vocabulary to target. I chose Tier 2 words that are high frequency and may be used across the curriculum. Some words, such as to arm, come from the poem, others stem from the instruction. These last words, such as significance, will need to be clarified through paraphrasing, as indicated within the lesson.
Students really enjoyed the three-part reading of the poem – becoming more fluent and enthusiastic with each repetition.
The scaffolding questions were a great aid in comprehension. Student answers illuminated for me both what they did and did not comprehend. Questioning guided students to figure out what might otherwise have been too challenging.
Students who participated the most when talking to their partners were more successful when it came time to write. I found that I had to make more time than I had planned for verbalization. I also had to circulate to ensure all students were indeed speaking.
When I implemented this lesson, there were no “newcomer” ELLs in my class. I may need to make revisions in the future to meet the needs of this group of learners. This might involve ready-made illustrations for them to sequence or acting out the story with them.