Standard Lesson

Multipurpose Poetry: Introducing Science Concepts and Increasing Fluency

3 - 5
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Four 30-minute sessions
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Poetry can be a fun and unintimidating way for ESL students to develop their oral fluency. In this lesson, students discuss what they know about poetry and then work in small groups to develop a choral reading of two poems about an assigned insect. The poems serve as an introduction to a research investigation (via the Internet) about the insect. Students use a worksheet to compile factual information about the insect and present the information, along with their choral poetry readings to the class.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • ESL students need frequent opportunities to develop their oral language fluency. Poetry provides a nonthreatening way for students to participate and practice oral fluency.
  • The brevity of poetry provides a scaffold for students to transition into more complicated and longer texts.
  • The rhythm and repetition of poetry provides support for students learning the English language.
  • Poetry provides a "powerful anticipatory set" for the introduction of concepts and content across the curriculum.

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

  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 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.

Materials and Technology

  • Insectlopedia by Douglas Florian (Voyager Books, 2002)
  • Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman (Harpercollins Juvenile Books, 1992)
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Chart paper and markers



  1. Copy the following poems from the two books listed under Materials and Technology in the Resources section onto chart paper.

    From Insectlopedia:

    "The Treehoppers"

    "The Whirligig Beetles"

    "The Crickets"

    "The Mayfly"

    From Joyful Noise:


    "Whirligig Beetles"

    "House Crickets"

  2. Before teaching this lesson, students should have had multiple experiences with choral poetry readings. They should be familiar with different choral reading formats and comfortable working in small cooperative groups.

Student Objectives

Students will:

  • Participate in choral poetry readings
  • Work cooperatively in groups to create a choral reading of an assigned poem
  • Use a graphic organizer to gather factual information about a particular insect
  • Present choral poetry readings and research information orally to the class

Session 1

1. Begin the lesson by discussing poetry with students. What do they know about poems? What kind of poems have they read before? Tell students that they are going to be reading some poems about insects.
2. Display the poem "The Treehoppers" from Insectlopedia. Read the poem aloud and ask students to listen and follow along as you point to each word. When you finish reading the poem, tell students that you are going to read it again and invite them to join along.
3. Once the poem has been read 2 times, ask students to help you create a choral reading. Ask for their suggestions (e.g., students read every other line, girls read one line and boys read another, half the class reads one line and half the class reads another). Perform the choral reading.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the poem "Fireflies" from Joyful Noise. The poems in this book are written for "two voices;" that is, they are written for two people to read together. You will need to take this into consideration when planning the choral readings. Some of the lines in the poem are meant to be read simultaneously by two people or groups. You should familiarize students with the format of the poems from Joyful Noise since they will be reading them in small groups during Session 2.

Session 2

1. Reread the poems from the previous session in a new choral format. Ask a student volunteer to follow along with a pointer as the poem is read.
2. Divide students into 3 cooperative groups, and assign each group an insect (i.e., whirligig beetles, crickets, and mayflies) and each student in the group a task. Suggested tasks include recorder, timekeeper, mediator (makes sure that everyone in the group has a chance to talk), and task manager (makes sure that the groups stays on task). The assigned tasks should enable students to work more cooperatively together and to practice teamwork skills.

Once students are in their designated groups, give each group the chart papers with their poems written on them. Each group should have two poems: one from Insectlopedia and one from Joyful Noise.
3. Have students read the two poems several times in their groups. Students should develop a choral reading for each poem. Reinforce to students that all group members must participate in the choral reading. Allow students the freedom of choosing how they want to perform the choral reading.
4. Allow students time to practice their choral readings with their small groups until they feel comfortable with the poems.

Session 3

1. Divide students into their small groups and have them run through their choral readings from the previous session.

Pass out the Research Information worksheet and tell students that they are going to work individually to find information about the insects in their poems.

3. Explain how students should complete the chart and direct them to the following webpages :
4. When students have completed the research information chart, have them return to their small groups to discuss and compare information. Collect the research charts.

Session 4

Have each small group perform the choral readings of their poems for the class, and ask each student in the group to contribute one fact about his or her insect.


  • Have students write a short report about their assigned insect.
  • Create groups with one member of each insect group and have each student teach their group members about their insect ("expert" groups).
  • Ask students to create a model of their insect and label the insect's body parts.
  • Ask students to choose a favorite poem to read aloud and share with the class.
  • Have students write diamante poems comparing two of the insects studied in class.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Assess the development of students' oral language skills informally through observation.

    1. Were students comfortable performing the choral readings?

    2. Did they read fluently?

    3. Did they enjoy reading the poems aloud?

  • Use students' Research Information worksheets to assess their knowledge about the insect and research skills. Check to make sure that each section of the worksheet is filled in with accurate information.
  • Evaluate students' cooperative learning skills. Did students stay on task and complete the assignment while working in groups?

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