Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

In the Poet's Shoes: Performing Poetry and Building Meaning

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

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Four 30-minute sessions to review poetry and complete the analysis; five 20-minute sessions to prepare for the presentation
Lesson Author

Beth O'Connor

Westfield, Massachusetts


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Instruction & Activities


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Analyze a variety of poems from a variety of online resources

  • Compare the concrete similarities and differences of several poems

  • Build connections between personal experience and literature

  • Analyze the elements a poet uses to develop meaning

  • Explore and develop an understanding of audience, speaker, narrator, and writer

  • Analyze mood and theme

  • Explore the impact spoken language has on meaning

  • Use dramatic voice and expression

  • Evaluate their own performance and the performance of others based on a specific evaluation rubric

back to top


Instruction & Activities

1. Begin by displaying a copy of William Carlos Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow," written out in paragraph form. Have students read the paragraph aloud. Next, explain to students that in poetry each line is a unit of meaning. Tell them that the words a writer uses at the end of each line are specifically chosen to build meaning. Then, display a copy of the same poem in its original form. Again, ask students to read the poem aloud. Discuss how its meaning is affected by the way in which the poem is written.

Display several poems on an overhead and engage students in a shared reading of the poems. Read them several times in a variety of ways, placing the emphasis on different words and lines within the poem or reading with a variety of loud and soft expressions. Discuss with students how the reading of the poems affects their meaning.

2. Next, have students complete the In the Poet's Shoes WebQuest. Begin by reading the directions together. Explain to students that they will be using the Internet to evaluate a variety of poets and select a favorite poem. At this time, ask students if they have a favorite poem or poet that they would like to explore. (Note that Shel Silverstein is not included on any of the websites). Encourage students who do not have a favorite poem or poet to ask their parents or grandparents for a suggestion. This is also helpful for students who are overwhelmed by the number of poets at each website. Remind students that although a particular poet may appear on more than one website, they are required to view each poet only once.

3. Have students complete the Thinking About Poetry handout and the Thinking About Poetry Notes handout as they work on the Internet. These handouts are linked directly to the WebQuest for students to print.

4. After students have completed the WebQuest and the two Thinking About Poetry handouts, ask them to submit one copy of the poem that they selected for their performance with a one-paragraph explanation for why they selected that poem (see WebQuest for further directions).

5. Direct students to print a copy of the Preparing for Your Performance handout (also linked to the Webquest). Allow students time in class or for homework to use this handout to prepare for their presentation. As students prepare, give them time in class to rehearse their performance and to work with peers on meaning and interpretation. Also consider having students tape record themselves reading the poem so that they can hear their performance and practice varying tone, voice, and emphasis.

6. Set aside a day for the performance. Set the mood by covering desks with butcher or art paper. Ask students to illustrate their favorite lines of the poem and display their drawings around the room. If possible, invite the students' parents.

back to top



  • Students choose one vocabulary word and illustrate it to show its meaning.

  • Students write and perform their own poems for the class.

  • Students illustrate lines in a poem to visualize meaning or particular images used in the poem.

  • Choose selections from Poetry Out Loud to read by stanza in a call-and-response manner. Begin by reading one stanza and having a student respond by reading the next stanza. Continue going back and forth between stanzas. Then, have students write their own poems that can be read in a call-and-response manner.

back to top



  • Teacher assessment for this lesson will take the form of two evaluation rubrics:

1.  In the Poet's Shoes Research and Class Participation Rubric

2.  In the Poet's Shoes Poetry Presentation Rubric

  • Use a separate evaluation rubric and an essay response for student's self-assessment. Self-assessment should focus on student's understanding of the poem, his or her interpretation of its meaning, and an evaluation of the performance.

back to top