Sample Lesson: Poetry Analysis Using the TOASTTT Strategy

  • Opening Session: The story of Icarus
  • Work Session: Landscape with the Fall of Icarus OPTIC; Musée des Beaux Arts TOASTTT
  • Closing Session: TOASTTT review video
  • ELAGSE9-10L5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
  • ELAGSE9-10L5a Interpret figures of speech (e.g., euphemism, oxymoron) in context and analyze their role in the text.
  • ELAGSE9-10RL7 Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums (e.g., Auden’s poem “Musée de Beaux Arts” and Breughel’s painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus), including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment.
Learning Target – What am I going to learn today?

I can analyze a painting using the OPTIC strategy and a poem using the TOASTTT strategy.

Opening Session – How am I going to learn it?

Today we’re going to be analyzing a painting called Landscape with the Fall of Icarus and then read a poem about the painting. So in order for you to understand what’s going on in the painting and the poem, you need to hear the story of Icarus! Gather ’round while I read, kiddos!

Work Session – What are we doing today?

Now that we know the story, let’s look at a painting that depicts the moment when Icarus fell from the sky. This is called “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” by Peter Bruegel.

We’re going to analyze this picture very quickly using the OPTIC strategy.

  • O: Overview – what is your general impression of this painting? What is it a picture of?
  • P: Parts – what can you see in different parts of the painting (foreground, background, etc.)?
  • T: Title – the title of this painting is “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.” What does the title tell you about the painting?
  • I: Intent – what was the artist’s intent with this painting? Why do you think he painted it?
  • C: Conclusions – what conclusions can you draw from this painting?

After we OPTIC the painting, now it’s finally time to get down into the analysis of a poem! The poem we are reading is called “Musée de Beaux Arts” by W.H. Auden:

Musee des Beaux Arts
by W. H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Now… let’s analyze! This PowerPoint will walk you through the TOASTTT strategy:

And while we TOASTTT… we can make some toast 🙂

Closing Session – How will I show that I learned it?

Did you understand the TOASTTT analysis? Need another example? Check out this video using the TOASTTT strategy on “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost.