Robert Frost Prompts the Poet in You
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In this lesson, students write poems similar in form and style to one of three poems by Robert Frost. First, students learn key details about the life of Frost. They then read and discuss three Frost poems. Together with the teacher, students create a poetry prompt for one of the three poems. This involves having students brainstorm ideas that connect to one of the poems for use in a writing assignment. Finally, students use their poetry prompt to write their own poems reminiscent of the form and style of the selected Frost poem.
From Theory to Practice
- By introducing great poetry to our students, we can begin to lead them (and ourselves as teachers) beyond poetry writing forms that we most comfortably teach (e.g., diamantes, cinquains, haikus, and acrostic poems).
- Part of our job is to guide our students in finding the content in great poems that connects to the experiences in their own lives. Another part is to encourage students to use their imaginations to comprehend that which they have not yet experienced.
- A poetry prompt is a "writing suggestion, statement, or assignment that stems from an original text." Poetry prompts should be open-ended and should connect to your students' world. To make poetry prompts different from traditional writing prompts, class time should be dedicated to helping students brainstorm their own ideas for writing by looking closely at a specific text.
- By creating a poetry prompt for a great poem in collaboration with students, the teacher empowers and enables students to write their own great poetry reminiscent of the form and style that they have studied.
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.
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
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 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.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
Materials and Technology
- Copies of one Frost poem for all students
|Select three of your favorite Frost poems. In this lesson, we will be using:
|Print the three selected poems on chart paper for posting in the classroom.
|Print on chart paper or enlarge A Great Poetry Prompt for posting in the classroom.
- Identify key details about Frost's life that helped to shape his poetry
- Identify a reading"“writing connection by collaboratively creating a poetry prompt, or a connected writing assignment, for one of Frost's poems
- Use a poetry prompt to write an original poem reminiscent of the form and style of a selected Frost poem
|Explain to students that during the next five sessions they will be reading poetry by Robert Frost and writing their own poems using a similar form and style as Frost's poems.
|Read aloud to students the brief biography found at Poets.org: Robert Frost. Share also with students the Key Facts About Robert Frost.
|Remind students that poets and other authors often write about what they know and what they have experienced in their own lives.
|Ask students to predict the topics and themes that Frost's poetry might cover. Try to get them to be as specific as possible. Write their predictions on chart paper and post them in the classroom.
|Display the chart paper with "The Pasture" by Frost. Read the poem aloud two times using a natural voice. Discuss the poem with students:
|Ask for student volunteers to read "The Pasture" aloud. Then have the class discuss what they would want someone to see if invited into their world.
|Display the chart paper with "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Frost and read it aloud two times. Facilitate a class discussion by asking the following questions:
|Ask for a pair of student volunteers to read aloud "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." Continue further discussion of the poem by asking what promise might the speaker have made to keep him traveling on a snowy evening.
|Display the chart paper with "The Road Not Taken" by Frost and read it aloud two times.
|Ask for four student volunteers to read aloud "The Road Not Taken." Each student can read one of the four verses.
|Discuss the poem with students using the following questions:
|Tell students that during the next session you will invite several individuals to read the three Frost poems aloud. Encourage all students to practice reading the poems at home.
|Remind students that they have been reading three poems written by Frost. Stand by each chart paper and read the title of each poem aloud. Then ask student which poem they liked best and why. Call on a few students to share their opinions.
|For each poem, invite a student who has not read aloud in the previous sessions to read the poem aloud to the class.
|Return to the predictions students made in Session 1 pertaining to the themes and topics of Frost's poetry. Discuss whether any of their predictions were correct.
|Discuss the reasons why poets and other authors might draw upon their own lives and experiences when choosing topics and themes to write about.
|Using a secret ballot, have students vote to determine which of the three Frost poems they liked the most. Announce the class favorite and ask the following questions:
|Explain to students that together you will create a poetry prompt that will help them write their own poems.
|Have students brainstorm ideas for their poetry prompt by recording phrases and ideas that they suggest for their own poems. Record these ideas on the board or chart paper.
|Combine students' ideas into a broadly stated writing suggestion or assignment that connects the selected poem to the students' own world. Continue editing the poetry prompt as long as students have comments.
|When you think that you (and your students) are finished with the poetry prompt, read aloud from the classroom poster A Great Poetry Prompt. If it largely describes your poetry prompt, you are done. If there are characteristics not included in your writing, continue working with students to develop it further.
A sample poetry prompt for "The Pasture" follows:
Write a poem inviting someone to join you doing or experiencing something that you especially enjoy. It can be something you like to do outdoors or indoors. It can be a special place that you like to visit or an activity that you enjoy. Think about the things that make the place or activity special. Use descriptive words in your poem to encourage the reader to accept your invitation. Help him or her to see, hear, and feel the wonderful experience that is so special to you.
|Reread and discuss the poetry prompt that your students created during Session 4, making sure to answer any questions your students may have.
|Model your writing process for the first 5 to 10 minutes.
|Allow students to write silently for 20 to 30 minutes, while you circulate and assist those students who are struggling.
|Have students share drafts of their poems with partners. Each partner will provide feedback to the writer by ensuring that the poem adheres to the poetry prompt and incorporates some of the student's personal experiences.
|Students can then edit and revise the initial drafts of their poems based on their partner's feedback.
- Have students read aloud the final drafts of their poems.
- Reinforce students' ability to connect great poems to their own lives by having them write poetry prompts for a poem such as "Biscuit" by Jane Kenyon.
- For extra credit, have students research the life of one of their favorite poets and tell how the poet's life experiences may have influenced his or her poetry. Students can also read aloud to the class several poems by the poet that support their insights.
- Have students share key details from their own lives that might shape their work as poets.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Students will list three key details about Frost's life that helped to shape his poetry. They will then pick one detail to develop into a paragraph that also connects to one of the Frost poems they have studied.
- As a class, students will collaboratively create a powerful poetry prompt for one of Frost's poems. The prompt can be evaluated using the sheet Have You Written A Great Poetry Prompt?
- You can evaluate students' original poems using the following criteria:
- Is the poem based on a good or great poetry prompt?
- Does the poem adhere to the requirements noted in the poetry prompt?
- Does the poem remind the reader of the original poem without using the same words?
- Does the poem reflect the student's own life experiences in some way?