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Lesson Plan

What is Poetry? Contrasting Poetry and Prose

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What is Poetry? Contrasting Poetry and Prose

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jennifer Estabrook, B.A. English, M.Ed Adolescent Literacy


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Studying poetry creates rich opportunities to encourage critical reading and thinking, as students analyze how poetry differs from prose in structure, form, purpose, and language. This lesson begins with a quick-write and a general discussion of the essential question What is poetry? Students are then reminded that different texts require different responses from readers, and to illustrate the differences they explore a poem and a prose selection on the same topic. Students discuss the two texts in cooperative groups, using a list of guiding questions. Each group then develops a list of descriptive statements about poetry, and the groups share their statements during a whole-class discussion that reconsiders the original question.

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TP-CASST Poetry Analysis
This handout presents a useful strategy for understanding poetry.


What is Poetry? Contrasting Prose and Poetry
Student groups use the guiding questions on this handout to contrast prose and poetry.



ReadWriteThink Venn Diagram
This interactive tool is used to compare and contrast poetry and prose texts.

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Pitcher, S., Martinez, G., Dicembre, E., Fewster, D., & McCormick, M. (2010). The literacy needs of adolescents in their own words. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(8), 636–645.

  • The literacy needs of adolescents are greater today than in previous generations; therefore, reading instruction must focus on learning to apply reading strategies to a variety of texts.


Peskin, J. (1998). Constructing meaning when reading poetry: An expert-novice study. Cognition & Instruction, 16(3), 235–264

  • There are many elements differentiating poetry and prose that place greater demands on the reader including differences in language, syntax, and structure.

  • The appreciation of poetry increases when readers have an understanding of the unique conventions of poetry. More experienced readers of poetry have developed schemata for guiding them through poetic texts.

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