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HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Compiling Poetry Collections and a Working Definition of Poetry

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Compiling Poetry Collections and a Working Definition of Poetry

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Eight 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Mary Osborne

Ozona, Florida

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Session Five

Session Six

Session Seven

Session Eight

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • listen to a variety of different types of poetry.

  • explore poetry books, anthologies, and collections independently.

  • learn the characteristics of several different forms of poetry.

  • learn the definitions of several different types of poetry craft elements.

  • search and collect already published poems that meet the characteristics of the chosen forms of poetry.

  • search and collect already published poems that meet the characteristics of the chosen craft elements of poetry.

  • create a working definition of poetry forms.

  • create a working definition of craft elements of poetry.

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Session One

  1. Make sure the students have their blank composition books, which will be used to compile their poetry collection.

  2. Begin by asking the students what their definition of poetry is. You should gather many different answers from the students. Write these responses on the board or chart paper.

  3. Tell the students that while their definitions are not all the same, there are some similarities among the definitions. Use this fact as a springboard into a discussion about poetry interpretation—there is no one right answer to poetry. Everyone brings his or her own thoughts and ideas to it.

  4. On the board, write the definition of poetry you will be using during these lessons. An example definition, adapted from Webster's, is, "writing that is concentrated on imaginative awareness, using language, which is chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound and rhythm."

  5. Ask students to write down this definition on the second page of their composition book.

  6. For the rest of the session, let the students explore the poetry books you have selected.

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Session Two

  1. Begin this session by reading one of your favorite poems. After you have shared it with the class, explain to them why this is one of your favorite poems. Tell the students that this is one of the activities they will be completing—finding examples of poetry and explaining the reasons that they chose them.

  2. Ask the students to name as many different forms of poetry as they can. After they have brainstormed and you have recorded their responses on chart paper or the board, display the Poetry Forms and Examples page from the PBS NewsHour Website. See how many of the forms of poetry the students were able to name.

  3. Put the students into pairs. Ask them try to define each of the forms of poetry. Have resource materials available to them, including dictionaries and poetry anthologies.

  4. When time is up for this activity, gather the class and ask students to share their definitions. This is also the time for you to let the students know which forms of poetry you will be focusing on in this unit. This sample lesson focuses on concrete/shape poetry, haiku, two-voice, cinquain and free verse.

  5. With forms of poetry defined, discuss the different elements of poetry with the students. The Online Poetry Classroom Website and the Poetry Tools page from the PBS NewsHour Website provide useful definitions and examples.

  6. Explain to the students that while they are learning about the different forms of poetry, they will also be seeing different elements of poetry.

  7. Now that the students have a little more background knowledge of poetry, again have them search, read, and share poems they find in the poetry anthologies and collections.

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Session Three

  1. Read and show the students several different concrete/shape poems. Ask students what they notice about the poems when they look at the words on the page.

  2. After students notice the relationship between the shape and focus of the poem, explain that in concrete/shape poems the lines form shapes or a shape that is related to the poem's topic. The words in the poem tend to reflect the sense/message of the poem itself. These poems are written almost entirely for visual effect and are easy to understand and fun to look at and create.

  3. Have at least one example of a Concrete/Shape Poem to hand out to the students.

  4. In their composition notebooks, on the third page, ask students to glue or tape in the example concrete/shape poem.

  5. On the following page, ask students to write down a definition for concrete/shape poetry.

  6. Finally, on the next page, ask students to find their own example of a concrete/shape poem. They can either copy a poem down, making sure to title it and cite their source, or make a photocopy of it and tape/glue it into their composition books.

  7. If there is time, or as an extension, students can write their own concrete/shape poem.

  8. Have the students share the poems that they found and added to their poetry collection.

    Additional resources for concrete/shape poetry:

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Session Four

  1. Read and show the students several different haiku.

  2. Ask students to note features of the poems and work toward defining the form: A haiku is a three-line poem. Its first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables, and the third line has 5 syllables.

  3. Have at least one example of a haiku to hand out to the students.

  4. In their composition notebook, on the next available page, ask students to glue or tape in the example haiku.

  5. On the following page, ask students to write a definition for haiku.

  6. Finally, on the next page, ask students to find their own example of a haiku. They can either copy a poem down, making sure to title it and cite their source, or make a photocopy of it and tape/glue it into their composition books.

  7. If there is time, or as an extension, students can write their own haiku.

  8. Have the students share the poems that they found and added to their poetry collection.

    Additional resources for haiku:

    • Seasonal Haiku lesson

    • The World of Haiku lesson

    • You Too Can Haiku lesson

    • Haiku Picturebook for Children by Keisuke Nishimoto and Kozo Shimizu (Heian International, 1999)

    • Don't Step on the Sky: A Handful of Haiku by Miriam Chaikin and Hiroe Nakata (Holt and Company, 2002)

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Session Five

  1. Read and show the students several different cinquain poems.

  2. Ask students to note features of the poems and work toward defining the form: Cinquains are poems that are written using a recipe. Most cinquain poems consist of a single, 22-syllable stanza, but they can be combined into longer works. A cinquain consists of five lines, arranged in the following structure:
    Line 1 two syllables
    Line 2 four syllables
    Line 3 six syllables
    Line 4 eight syllables
    Line 5 two syllables
  3. Have at least one example of a cinquain to hand out to the students.

  4. In their composition notebook, on the next available page, ask students to glue or tape in the example cinquain.

  5. On the following page, ask students to write a definition for cinquain.

  6. Finally, on the next page, ask students to find their own example of a cinquain. They can either copy a poem down, making sure to title it and cite their source, or make a photocopy of it and tape/glue it into their composition books.

  7. If there is time, or as an extension, students can write their own cinquain.

  8. Have the students share the poems that they found and added to their poetry collection.

    Additional resources for cinquain:

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Session Six

  1. Read and show the students several different two-voice poems and/or listen to examples of two-voice poems.

  2. Ask students to note features of the poems and work toward defining the form: The poem is usually written in two columns—one for each person who is reading the poem. Sometimes, the poet wants the two readers to say something at the same time. If that is the case, then the poet will write the words on the same line in each column. You can compare two-voice poetry to a conversation between two people.

  3. Have at least one example of a two-voice poem to hand out to the students.

  4. In their composition notebook, on the next available page, ask students to glue or tape in the example two-voice poem.

  5. On the following page, ask students to write a definition for two-voice poem.

  6. Finally, on the next page, ask students to find their own example of a two-voice poem. They can either copy a poem down, making sure to title it and cite their source, or make a photocopy of it and tape/glue it into their composition books.

  7. If there is time, or as an extension, students can write their own two-voice poem.

  8. Have the students share the poems that they found and added to their poetry collection.

    Additional resources for two-voice poem:

    • I Am Phoenix, Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman (HarperCollins Publishers, 1985)

    • Joyful Noise, Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman (HarperCollins Publishers, 1988)

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Session Seven

  1. Read and show the students several different free-verse poems.

  2. Ask students to note features of the poems and work toward defining the form: Free-verse poetry is patterned by speech and images rather than by regular metrical schemes. Lines can also be shortened for speed, or segmented into groups of words or syllables to slow down the reading. While free verse usually does not have to rhyme, it does have a rhythm or beat to it.

  3. Have at least one example of a free-verse poem to hand out to the students.

  4. In their composition notebook, on the next available page, ask students to glue or tape in the example free-verse poem.

  5. On the following page, ask students to write a definition for free-verse poem.

  6. Finally, on the next page, ask students to find their own example of a free-verse poem. They can either copy a poem down, making sure to title it and cite their source, or make a photocopy of it and tape/glue it into their composition books.

  7. If there is time, or as an extension, students can write their own free-verse poem.

  8. Have the students share the poems that they found and added to their poetry collection.

    Additional resources for free-verse poem:

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Session Eight

  1. Now that the students have worked with forms of poetry, it is time for them to look at the elements of poetry.

  2. Refer to the Online Poetry Classroom Website and/or the Poetry Tools page from the PBS NewsHour Website.

  3. Choose 4 or 5 elements that you want to focus on (e.g., simile and metaphor, onomatopoeia and imagery).

  4. Using their poetry collections in their composition books, students can go back through the poems they have already selected and find examples of the elements of poetry, or the students can search for new poems that include these elements.

  5. As we did with form, in their composition books, provide an example poem, then the student's definition, and finally a copy of a poem discovered by the student.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

As students read and collect their poems during this unit, observe their activities. Look for engagement and immersion in the activity. If you notice students who are not participating fully in the activities, try to provide poetry collections and options that match their personal interests. Students may also simply need some additional support as they explore poetry. Strickland and Strickland offer this options for engaging students and learning more about their understanding of their readings:

Between readings, [Michael Strickland] sometimes comments on a particular piece or invites students to respond by saying: “Tell us what’s on your mind”; “What did you think about that poem?”; and “Anything you want to share?” The students follow his lead, commenting on a particular aspect of the poem or offering their reactions. During the discussions that follow, students frequently point out what they notice about the poetry and what appeals to them.

You can use students’ reactions to similar questions to match their understanding and interests to additional poetry collections.

At the end of this activity, provide students with a copy of the Poetry Collection Checklist or use the Interactive Poetry Collection Checklist Chart, which allows students to type the titles of their poems and add additional criteria (for instance, if they want to list two poems for a category). Final assessment of the activity should be based on the completion of poetry collection in the composition books. Compare students’ checklists to the poems in their composition books. Provide feedback on selections as well as pointers on how to re-categorize poems in situations when poetic form or craft elements are misidentified.

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