Standard Lesson

Poetry: A Feast to Form Fluent Readers

3 - 5
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Five sessions, ranging in length
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In this lesson for grades 3–5, students watch an example of poetry performed orally and then discuss elements of the performance that lead to reading fluency. Students then use online resources to select a poem to perform in class. A performance critique sheet is used to evaluate performances and can be used for self-evaluation, peer evaluation, and teacher evaluation.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • Excessively slow, disfluent reading leads to less overall reading, has been associated with poor comprehension, and creates frustration for the reader.

  • Strategies to increase the fluency of students include the use of poetry, which is often overlooked as a motivator for elementary students.

  • Discussion of fluent and meaning-filled reading helps students develop a metacognitive understanding that the meaning of a passage is not only carried in the words, but also in the way the words are presented to the reader.


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.
  • 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.

Materials and Technology

  • Computers with Internet access
  • LCD projector
  • Highlighters and note-taking tools
  • Video camera (optional)




Student Objectives

Students will

  • Be able to identify text written in poetry form and the elements that are applicable (e.g., rhyme, repetition, onomatopoeia)

  • Analyze oral expressions (e.g., pause, accent, rhythm) that are used in poetry to convey meaning

  • Develop effective styles for reading poetry aloud

  • Create an oral performance of a self-chosen piece of poetry using fluency and expression to convey meaning

Session 1: Introduction (60 minutes)

1. View the Favorite Poem Project–Lee Samuel video on the site Favorite Poem Project: Americans Saying Poems They Love. Lead a discussion of Lee's reading of the poem, Casey at the Bat.

What words stood out to you as Lee read the poem?

Are there any phrases you can remember?

Did he pause while he was reading?

Do you think Lee has only read the poem a few times? Why or why not?

2. View the Favorite Poem Project–Lee Samuel video a second time while students listen for oral expression.

3. View the print version of the poem. Prompt students to identify clues in the text that might have helped Lee in his reading of the poem. In general, you might discuss the following:

Rate: Does the speed of the reading match the feeling or mood in the poem?
Example: The reader's voice speeds up when reciting the third stanza to emphasize building excitement.

Example: The reader slows down when concluding the poem creating suspense, with one final pause before the final word "out."
Repetition: When you read the repetition, does it clarify to the listener what the author wants to emphasize?
Example: The reader pronounces "mighty" with more tone and volume to be sure the listener understands that Casey is mighty.
Onomatopoeia: Does the word sound like its meaning?
Example: The reader forms a sneer with his lips when reciting the word.

Voice: Does the reader use voice to identify characters?
Example: The reader uses the voice of an umpire when saying, "strike one."
4. Allow time for students to explore the online poetry sites listed under Websites in the Resources & Preparation tab. Students select a poem based on its appeal and readability and print it for the next day's class activity.

Session 2: Analyze and Apply Process (30 to 45 minutes)

Encourage students to use an "analyze and apply process" when preparing to read their poem aloud:

  • Read the poem through once and identify any words that you do not know. Use current classroom techniques to identify word meanings and discuss with students how knowing the meaning of a word can help them in reading it aloud.

  • Read the poem a second time. Do you understand the poem's message? How will this affect your reading? What emotions will you use when reading the poem?

  • Read the poem a third time. Are there any clues (e.g., repetition, punctuation marks, onomatopoeia) in the text that tell you how to read the poem aloud?

  • Practice reading the poem a few more times.

  • Rehearse your poem by reading it aloud to your partner (i.e., paired reading). How does the poem sound to your partner? The Performance Critique sheet can be used for peer evaluation.

Sessions 3 and 4: Rehearsal (5-10 minutes per session)

Provide students optimal time to practice reading their selected poem. As a homework assignment, students rehearse their poem with a parent or adult. Other possible times for rehearsal include transitions and reader/writer workshops.

Session 5: Poetry Feast (120 minutes)

Students perform an oral reading of their poem in small groups or in front of the whole class. Focus on the celebration of the written word performed.

The Performance Critique sheet is then used to evaluate the oral reading. Students will evaluate their own performance and also the performance of one of their peers. If peer evaluation is not common practice in the classroom, guidance from the teacher is highly recommended.


  • Students create their own poem to perform aloud.

  • Student performances are videotaped for the purpose of creating a class video poetry collection (similar to a class poetry book). Don't forget to secure video release forms if your school requires them.

  • Students prepare a poetry performance for another class or parent night.

  • Students create a class book entitled "How to read poetry aloud."

  • Students listen to recordings of authors (e.g., Pretlusky, Silverstein) reading their own poetry aloud.

Student Assessment / Reflections

The performance critique sheet can be used on three levels to evaluate student performances:

  • Teacher evaluation

  • Peer evaluation

  • Self-evaluation

Options for scoring:

  • Option 1: Review all performance critiques and develop a narrative assessment for each student.

  • Option 2: Assign numbers to each level (e.g., wow = 3; working = 2; whoa = 1). Sum up the scores of each performance critique (i.e., self, peer, and teacher) to determine an average score for assigning a grade.

  • Option 3: Use the self and peer evaluations as feedback and assign a grade based on the teacher evaluation.

Use your professional judgment when engaging in assessment activities.


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