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Lesson Plan

Poetry: Sound and Sense

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Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Carol S. Anderson Gibson

Phoenix, Arizona


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology






  • Instrumental music (e.g., “A Night on Bald Mountain” by Modeste Mussorgsky)

  • Digital recording device [NOTE: This is not included as a resource in the current lesson, but students need to use a recording device in step 4 of the Preparation phase. Consider adding this resource.]


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1. Make copies of the poetry to be used during the lesson. Links to a number of selected poems have been provided in the Resources section or you may choose other poems that you enjoy and feel are appropriate for your students.

2. Read through the poems and identify the poetic sound devices you want to emphasize. You can access websites such as Mrs. Dowling's Literature Terms and Literary Terms to find definitions and examples of commonly used sound devices. Prepare a sheet listing the sound devices that you decide to focus on and make copies of the sheet for students.

3. Make copies of the Observations About Poetry Sheet, which provides observations about poetry by various authors.

4. Make a recording of "Chanson d'Automne" by Paul Verlaine, or use a poem of your own choosing in which the author effectively plays with the sounds of words. "Chanson d'Automne" offers an excellent example of assonance. Using a poem in another language allows students to focus on the sounds of words rather than on the poem's meaning. You may be able to find audio recordings of songs or poems in another language if you are uncomfortable making the recording yourself.

5. Ensure that students can access the necessary websites:
6. Locate pictures of a crocus, tulip, and daffodil (or bring in real flowers if you can).

7. Choose 10 "beautiful" words and write a nonsense poem using at least seven of them. The poem should not rhyme. Two sample poems have been provided.

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