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HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Astronomy Poetry: Combining Poetry With the Content Areas

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

 
Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Approximately three weeks, depending on the unit of study
Lesson Author

Che-Mai Gray

Marysville, Washington

Publisher

International Reading Association

 

Student Objectives

Instruction and Activities

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • Express their understanding and knowledge of a content area topic, such as astronomy, by writing poems that integrate vocabulary and information studied in class

  • Reinforce content area knowledge in a creative and reflective manner

  • Use the writing process approach when writing content area poems

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Instruction and Activities

Introduction and Teacher Modeling (approximately two days)

Note: If students lack prior knowledge of figurative language techniques, you may want to model or review a selection of these techniques (e.g., similes, metaphors, personification) during these whole-class sessions.

1. Distribute the Forms of Poetry handout that you prepared in advance of the lesson (see sample) and the Astronomy Poetry Project Requirements. Explain to students that their next unit of study will be astronomy and that they will be demonstrating their new knowledge through poetry. Let students know that there will be days designated solely for writing poetry in class.

2. Read various astronomy poems to the class (see suggested booklist) and identify the factual evidence in each. You may also choose to read aloud from Space Poems, a class collection of poems about astronomy, or Poetry of the Sky: Poetry and Quotes, an astronomer's collection of works related to the field.

3. On chart paper or the blackboard, model the poetry writing process in a whole-class format.

a. Select a poem format from the Forms of Poetry handout.

b. Ask students to suggest a vocabulary word, object, or concept for the poem. (Something simple like "the moon" works well.)

c. Work together with your students to list everything you know about the topic.

d. List any emotions or words that you and your students associate with the topic.

e. List any personal experiences that either you or your students have had with the topic.

f. List objects similar to the one you have chosen.

g. Cross out tired words; replace with words and phrases that are more vivid.

h. With input from your students, circle the ideas you want to express in the poem.

i. Encourage student involvement as you write the poem in the chosen format.

j. Read the poem aloud.

k. Revise and edit as necessary.

4. Post the final version of the class poem along with the Poetry Writing Process sheet so that students can refer to them as they work on their own astronomy poems throughout the unit.

Student Poetry Writing (approximately 10 days)

Note: The writing of content area poetry should be tied in with the content you are teaching. Intersperse approximately 10 days for writing poetry within an eight-week unit so that students can examine, reflect on, and write about the content under study.

1. Open each class session by reading one or two poems related to the topic you are studying in class. Discuss both the form and content of the poems. This poetry read-aloud should be done regardless of whether the session has been designated for poetry writing, as it will expose students to more examples of the integration of the two disciplines.

2. Continue with your astronomy lessons as planned, occasionally highlighting concepts and terminology that students could use in their poems.

3. After exploring a new or challenging topic, schedule a day for poetry writing. Students should write as many short poems about the topic as they can, using as many of the different forms of poetry as they wish. Tell students that their poems do not have to be perfect or even complete at this point, as they will be asked to revise and finalize them at the end of the unit.

4. After each poetry writing session, have students add their new poems to those already written as part of the unit. Alternately, you could collect the poems if your students have a tendency to misplace their work.

Publication and Reflection (approximately four days)

1. Refer students to the class poem that was written at the beginning of the unit and review the Astronomy Poetry Project Requirements.

2. Direct students to choose 10 of their best poems that they wish to publish. Working with a partner, students can peer edit each other's poems and revise them as necessary.

3. Take the class to the computer lab and demonstrate the ReadWriteThink Printing Press. Students should choose the "Booklet" option and type their finished poems into the tool. Remind students to print two copies of their books when done, as the Printing Press will not save their work online.

4. Have students share their poetry books in small groups. Ask each student to share one of their best poems with the rest of the class. Usually, there is not enough time to share all of the poems.

5. Have students reflect on the process of using poems to understand content. Have them respond in writing on a 3 x 5 index card to the following prompt:
How do you think reading and writing poems enhanced your learning of astronomy? Did poetry writing help you to remember the content we learned? Why or why not?
If your students are unfamiliar with reflection, you may need to make the prompt easier.

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EXTENSIONS

  • Repeat this lesson throughout the year in other content areas. At the end of the year, compile all poems into a class book and distribute a copy to each student. This is a great way to review content area topics before final exams!

  • Have students listen to excerpts from The Planets Suite at AquarianAge.org and write poems about their feelings afterward.

  • Encourage students to research an astronomy topic that was not covered during the unit and write a poem about it that demonstrates their new knowledge.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

Grade students' poetry books according to the following checklist:

  • Writing conventions—spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization (10 points total)

  • Completion of 10 original poems (10 points each; 100 points total)

The important part of the project comes in completing the work and reflecting on the use of poetry as a learning mode, not in the actual form or quality of the poetry. Therefore, no formal rubric is used. If you wish, you may require students to include certain content area topics and terminology in their poems as an additional method of assessing students' understanding of the information under study.

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