Standard Lesson

Engineering the Perfect Poem by Using the Vocabulary of STEM

7 - 10
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Three 45- to 90-minute sessions
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Engineering is the “silent E” in STEM subject areas. While science, mathematics, and technology are often topics of content area lessons, engineering is often ignored. However, engineering is inclusive of all STEM subjects because engineers use science, mathematics, and technology to solve problems. Engineering careers are diverse, spanning many different technologies and disciplines, such as agricultural engineering, aerospace engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, and chemical engineering. Each of these jobs involves a rich, highly-specialized vocabulary. In this lesson, students are introduced to the vocabulary of engineering careers by reading informational websites. After learning the terminology, they use discipline-specific vocabulary words to create poems about engineering careers.

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Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Computers with Internet access
  • LCD Projector




  1. Familiarize yourself with a wide variety of poetry (e.g., diamante, cinquain, 5W, bio, I Am, name, acrostic, limerick, and two-voice poems) using the ReadWriteThink lesson Creating Classroom Community by Crafting Themed Poetry Collections as a resource.
  2. Choose the type of poetry you will be using. In this session, haiku poems will be demonstrated. Familiarize yourself with the Haiku Starter.
  3. Preview the engineering resource sites that your students will use for research, and familiarize yourself with the vocabulary of engineering jobs.
  4. Preview some of the poems from Sample Poetry About Occupations. The poems are available in the following formats: audio mp3, webpages, or downloadable pdf. Either project a copy of the poem or make a printout for students, and download any audio that you’d like students to hear.
  5. If working with younger children, you can use poems from the book The Underwear Salesman: And Other Jobs for Better or Verse. If working with older children, you may want to use sections of the poem “A Song for Occupations” by Walt Whitman
  6. If you choose to use Wordle for student illustrations, preview the website.
  7. If necessary, reserve time in the computer lab for computer work.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Construct knowledge of engineering careers by researching online resources
  • Demonstrate an understanding of STEM-related vocabulary by creating a poem of discipline-specific words and a related image
  • Develop fluency and public speaking skills by presenting their poems

Session 1

Part 1: Poetry Introduction

  1. Discuss different forms of poetry (diamante, cinquain, 5W, bio, I Am, name, acrostic, limerick, and two-voice poems).
  2. Introduce the concept of writing poetry about occupations with students. Use some of the poems from Sample Poetry About Occupations. Either project a copy of the poem or make a printout for students, and play the audio so students can hear the poems being read. Then have students reread the poems and discuss the use of discipline-specific language in the poems. For example, in “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” discipline-specific terms include astronomer, proofs, figures, columns, charts, diagrams, add, divide, measure, lectured, and stars.
    • If working with younger students, read some poems from The Underwear Salesman. Read the poems aloud and use a projector so students can see the words as you read. After reading, talk about how the author used poetry to describe different jobs. Then have students select different discipline-specific words from a few poems.
    • If you are working with older students you may also wish to use sections of “A Song for Occupations” by Walt Whitman.

Part 2: Poetry Format

  1. Introduce the type of poetry that students will be using in this lesson. For demonstration purposes, this lesson uses haiku. (Students should be familiar with the forms they will be using before this lesson.) Distribute the second page of the Haiku Starter and demonstrate how to craft a haiku poem, using the 5–7–5–syllable pattern.

Session 2

Part 1: Introduction to Engineering

  1. Introduce the concept of an engineer as someone who uses math, science, and technology to solve real-world problems.
  2. Ask students what they know and want to know about engineers. Record their answers on a K-W-L Chart.
  3. After completing the first two sections of the K-W-L Chart, show some of the video clips of engineers describing their work from Design Squad Nation.
  4. After watching the video, revisit the K-W-L Chart and discuss what the students want to know and have learned so far. Keep this chart to use at the end of this session.
  5. Explore web resources that list different types of engineering careers. Note that this is a surface exploration to introduce students to the sites. In Part 2 students will be doing a more in-depth exploration on their own.
    Examine the specific language/vocabulary that is listed with some positions and record these words. Tell students they should be looking for this special “academic” vocabulary when they are searching through their websites. They should also search for STEM-related words, including math, science, and technology terms associated with the jobs.
  6. After viewing these sites, ask the following questions: Are all engineers the same? What different types of engineering jobs are there? What do they have in common? Using the K-W-L Chart, record what students have learned through exploring these websites.

Part 2: Creating Poems

  1. Tell students that they will be learning about various engineering jobs by reading websites and constructing haiku poetry using job-specific vocabulary words they find on the sites. These words should include STEM-related words, if possible, and should be recorded on the Haiku Starter.
  2. Demonstrate how students can use the first page of the Haiku Starter to record the job-specific vocabulary words they find in the passages and to then note on the sheet the number of syllables in the words. Record about 8-10 words to give them an idea. Model writing a haiku poem using the words.

    Here is an example of a general haiku poem about engineers.

    Engineers: they use (5 syllables)

    Math, science, technology (7 syllables)

    Solve real-world problems (5 syllables)

    Remember, this is a modification of the traditional, nature-themed haiku and elaborates on engineering careers.
  3. Have students work in pairs at computers using the same four websites listed in Part I, Step 5 to search for engineering careers. Remind them to record specific words about the engineering career they chose to use in their poem. Then they create their poems on the Haiku Starter.

Part 3: Creating Presentations

Students will create presentations that display their poems and corresponding artwork. This can be a drawn illustration, a collection of photos and clip art, or a “word cloud” or Wordle. (See Wordle Example Based on This Lesson Plan for a sample word cloud.)

  1. To create a Wordle, each pair of students should use the engineering web resources to record answers to the following questions in a word-processing document. (Note that they can copy and paste as much text from the websites as they like into this word document because more text makes for a more interesting word cloud.)
    • What do people in this job do?
    • How do they use math, science, or technology in the job?
    • What are the educational requirements?
    • How much does this job pay?
    • What are the interesting job-specific vocabulary words you see?

    Once they create the Wordle, they should print it out or save as a pdf file.
  2. Distribute copies of the PowerPoint Tool Tips, and ask students to create a presentation by combining the text, audio, and illustrations on either a single slide or series of slides. (Note: If you do not want to use software, students can write their poems neatly on their image [illustrations or Wordle].)

Session 3: Sharing Their Poems

  1. Provide students with a copy of the Oral Presentation Rubric prior to their presentations so that they are aware of how they will graded on their presentation skills.
  2. Allow students a few minutes to practice quietly reading their poems aloud before their presentations.


  1. Create other poems (diamante, cinquain, 5W, bio, I Am, name, acrostic, limerick, and two-voice poems) by using the job-related vocabulary that students compiled.

  2. Use MyTube: Changing the World With Public Service Announcements to have students create public service announcements promoting the engineering jobs they researched.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Observe students while they are working, and make note of their use of the specific vocabulary of engineering, vocabulary more specific to the particular type of engineering they chose, and other STEM-related words they use.
  • Use the STEM Poetry Rubric to assess the poems.
  • Use the Oral Presentation Rubric to assess student presentations.

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