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Lesson Plan

Color of Silence: Sensory Imagery in Pat Mora's Poem "Echoes"

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Color of Silence: Sensory Imagery in Pat Mora's Poem "Echoes"

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jaime R. Wood

Jaime R. Wood

Portland, Oregon


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two

Session Three


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • use all five senses to describe known objects.

  • explain the purpose and effect of using sensory imagery when describing something.

  • write a poem using sensory images.

  • identify sensory images in Pat Mora's poem "Echoes."

  • discuss how sensory images contribute to the poem's meaning.

  • write a paragraph using textual evidence that explains how sensory images affect the poem's meaning.

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Session One

  1. Because students will be working with food, allow students to wash their hands and/or have students disinfect with hand sanitizer at the beginning of the session.

  2. Divide the class into groups of three or four students and explain that each group is going to get a bag that contains a different edible object. Their job is to feel and listen to the object before taking it out of the bag to look at, smell, and taste it. Once they have engaged all five of their senses to explore their objects, each group must use the Using Your Senses graphic organizer to describe the object according to each of the five senses. One student from each group should record all the information onto the Using Your Senses graphic organizer, listing students’ names next to their answers.

  3. Have each group choose a student to present their object along with the answers that the group recorded. Ask the presenters to read each box of the Using Your Senses graphic organizer without stopping to show how their answers already sound like a poem.

  4. As a whole class, discuss how the sensory images they created change the way they think about and understand the objects in their bags. Ask students:

    • Do the sensory images make the objects more interesting?

    • Do they help the objects come to life? Explain.

    • Do the images help you better relate to the objects using your senses? Explain.
  5. For the remainder of class time, have students use the objects from their bags or choose a new object to write a poem about. Share the Sensory Imagery in Poetry Checklist with students, and explain that they will be evaluated based on the requirements on the checklist. They must use at least three of the five senses, but are encouraged to use as many as possible in the poem. The goal is for them to use their senses to describe something so well that their audience senses it too. Students may want to start by making a list similar to the one they created on the Using Your Senses graphic organizer so that they have a variety of sensory images they can use in their poems.

  6. Students may need to finish writing their poems at home. Explain that volunteers will have a chance to share their poems aloud in the next session.

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Session Two

  1. Start by asking two or three volunteers to read the poems they wrote. Remind students of the need for respectful attention as volunteers read and ask members of the class to point out examples of sensory imagery from the students’ poems. Discuss why students chose the images they did and how the images affect the meaning of their poems. Ask all students to turn in their poems.

  2. Now give students a copy of the poem “Echoes” by Pat Mora. Ask them to locate the word “Zacatecas” in the poem, circle it, and write in the margin “a city in Mexico.” Have three volunteers go to your classroom map of North America and point out the following places: Zacatecas, Mexico (where the maid in the poem is from); Santa Fe, New Mexico (where Pat Mora lives); and the city where you are located. Use push pins or sticky notes to show on the map the locations of those three places. Ask if anyone has ever visited the first two places, and, if so, ask for descriptions. Have students keep these settings in mind as you read the poem.

  3. Read the poem to students twice. The first time they can either read along or underline places where they see Pat Mora using one of the five senses to describe something. After you have read the poem twice, have students take a few minutes to label which senses are used next to each underlined passage they underlined during your readings.

  4. During classroom discussion, students should be able to explain what the poem is about (using the map to locate the people in the poem and to show how close we as Americans are to Zacatecas, Mexico) and how sensory imagery works to make the poem more meaningful or easier to understand.

  5. Have each student use the Explaining the Images writing exercise sheet to write a paragraph explaining what “Echoes” is about and how the sensory images affect the poem’s meaning. Students should use textual evidence in the form of paraphrased or quoted examples from the poem to support their answers. If you want, share the Example Explanatory Paragraph with students as a model before they get started.

  6. Students should finish writing their explanatory paragraphs at home and turn them in at the beginning of the next session.

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Session Three

  1. Ask students to turn in their Explaining the Images writing exercise sheets.

  2. Return the student poems that the class wrote during session one. Ask students to read their poems to themselves or trade with a partner and underline all sensory imagery in their poems.

  3. Have students think about how sensory images are working in their poems and what they might want to revise to make images stronger or work harder to convey a message. If they are working with partners, have them discuss their reactions to their partners’ poems.

  4. Give them time to revise their poems, and invite volunteers to share their poems with the class, discussing how sensory images are working in their poems or what changes they made.

  5. Have students complete the Sensory Imagery in Poetry Checklist to turn in with their revised poems.

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  • Use ReadWriteThink online interactives Acrostic Poem Tool and Diamante Poem Tool to challenge students to create sensory poetry in a specific poetic form.

  • Have students brainstorm questions about what Zacatecas, Mexico, is like. Then have each student use the Internet to research facts about a specific aspect of Zacatecas, such as tourism, climate, industry, etc., to share with the class. Finally, have each student choose one area of Zacatecas to focus on, such as culture and music or industry and jobs (choosing a specific type of music or job to focus on) and write a one-page report using sensory imagery to better explain their topic.

  • Have students use Pat Mora's author site along with the resources in the ReadWriteThink calendar entry Poet and author Pat Mora was born in 1942 to complete an author study.

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  • Using Your Senses graphic organizer: Since this organizer is used during a collaborative learning exercise, it should be assessed according to whether it was completed and whether all group members contributed. This can be determined by asking each group’s recorder to list who shared each response.

  • Student poem: The poem should be assessed according to whether or not students followed the directions. Use the Sensory Imagery in Poetry Checklist to help keep students on track and to use as an assessment tool.

  • Explanatory paragraph: The goal of the explanatory paragraph is to show how well students understand the poem “Echoes” and the effect of using sensory images in the poem. Use the Example Explanatory Paragraph as a guide.

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