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Lesson Plan

Sonic Patterns: Exploring Poetic Techniques Through Close Reading

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Sonic Patterns: Exploring Poetic Techniques Through Close Reading

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

Eileen Murphy Buckley

Eileen Murphy Buckley

Chicago, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



In addition to developing background knowledge about allusions and the etymology of key words, students use an online tool to examine the relationship between the speaker and his father in Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays." Then students explore how the poet uses consonance, assonance, and alliteration to illustrate this complex relationship. Finally students use the idea of a composed memory and their knowledge of sonic patterns to draft, revise, and share their own original text.

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Bio-Cube:  This interactive allows students to summarize a person's life after reading, or before writing a biography or autobiography.

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By connecting an accessible poem with sophisticated reading and literary analysis skills, this lesson is designed to help teachers model the strategies experienced readers and writers use in their approach to poetry.  In With Rigor for All, Carol Jago supports such pedagogy, stating that teachers "need to take the time in class to show students how to examine a text in minute detail: word by word, sentence by sentence." (54)  "Only then," Jago asserts, "will [students] develop the skills they need to be powerful readers" (55).  In his 2008 Research Matters article, Rick VanDeWeghe states that "close reading is not mysterious, not something that only certain kinds  of advanced readers can do. Rather, 'such reading starts with good questions and prompts' ("Radically" 490), and such reading is done for meaning..." (106). This lesson supports such close reading through the teaching of explicit strategies.

Further Reading

Jago, Carol. 2000. With Rigor For All: Teaching the Classics to Contemporary Students. Portland, ME: Calendar Islands.


VanDeWeghe, Rick. "Research Matters: Authentic Literacy and Student Achievement." English Journal 97.6. (July 2008): 105-108.

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