ELA 4-5 The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts: K-12 Close Reading Task

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific...
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Essential and guiding questions: 

Text-Dependent Questions:

  • Considering setting, and based on the first stanza of the poem, about how long after Paul Revere’s ride did the author pen this poem? How do you know? Explain your answer with evidence from stanza one and what you already know about The Revolutionary War.
  • Study stanza two. Based on what you read, how would you describe Paul Revere? Give at least two adjectives to describe his character. What about stanza two helps you prove this?
  • Find and discuss examples of literary devices like simile and personification in stanza three. Why does Longfellow choose these techniques? Why not just write, “Paul saw a British ship in the moonlight?”
  • Reflect on stanzas four, five, and six. Imagine you are the “friend” mentioned in these stanzas. How do you feel? What descriptions do you read that would make you feel nervous? Scared? Excited?
  • Find examples of alliteration in stanza seven. What tones or moods do you think the author is trying to convey with these exact word choices?
  • One line in stanza eight reads, “The fate of a nation was riding that night.” Based on what you remember from Social Studies lessons, explain what the author means by this line. Can you give other examples, from the past OR the present, when it seemed like the “fate of a nation” was riding on an event?
  • Paul Revere is riding in stanzas nine, ten, and eleven. List the things that Longfellow claims Paul Revere sees and thinks about as he rides. Does this seem realistic? Why or why not? Given the same situation, do you think you would notice and think about the same things? Why or why not?
  • Use stanza twelve to describe how the British fought versus how the Americans fought. Discuss two major differences between the two sides.
  • The last stanza describes Paul Revere’s ride as, “A word that shall echo for evermore!” Since we know words cannot literally echo forever, what do you think Longfellow means? What proof do we have that Paul Revere’s message of  freedom has “echoed for evermore?”

Activity/Task Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Differentiation suggestions: 

Scaffolding and support for special education students, English language learners, and struggling readers:

Make sure to discuss potential areas of challenge, noting that the poem will be read aloud many times, with modeling by the teacher. Groupings for close reading will vary, and may include homogeneously or heterogeneously placed groups. A particular area of focus may be vocabulary, with an emphasis on Tier 3 words.