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Poetry Lesson Plans

Poetry is a complex sector of literature that can be hard for students of any age to fully appreciate. In order to instill a love of poetry (or at the very least, make the subject teachable) it’s important to have poetry lesson plans that get the job done and are tolerable for students and teachers alike

Your lesson plan for teaching poetry doesn't have to be boring or stodgy, as that’s one of the many stereotypes that surround poetry in general - that it’s dull, superfluous, or just plain hard to understand. Because of this, students tend to give up before they really get started without giving poetry a fighting chance. 

A great English poetry lesson plan could look something like this: 

Setting the stage for a poem before you read it aloud to the class.
This is especially helpful if the poem is written from a perspective that students aren’t familiar with. Use this as a chance to help you students step inside the narrator’s shoes. This will connect them further with the poem as they read. 

Reading the poem aloud to the class. 
It’s up to you whether you want your students to follow along with their own copy or simply listen to you read. Either way could heighten their experience. 

Identify and define words that are unfamiliar to your students
Making a chart with problem words that can be referenced again and again is always great. 

Read the poem aloud again
Now that the class is more familiar with the problem words, read the poem again to see if they glean a different meaning from it. 

Ask the students to tell you, in their own words, what each stanza means
Picking the poem apart stanza by stanza makes it easier to digest. And having students use their own language and verbiage makes the concepts easier to understand - and more enjoyable. 

Assign the poem for your students to memorize
This helps to cement it into their brains.

Have the students recite the poem that they worked so hard on.

Poetry Lesson Plan Objectives

Teaching poetry can be intimidating - and not just for the students. It can be intimidating for the teacher, too! How to teach a kid to write a poem is no easy task, but it is something that can be done. 

Instilling an appreciation for poetry in your class starts with introducing a poem. The best way for a student to connect with poetry is to find poems that they actually enjoy reading - but how is that possible? All students have different tastes and styles. But here’s the thing. You can use that to your advantage. The differences in your students makes for a wide variety of poems that can be studied. 

How to introduce a poem in class doesn’t have to be a huge deal. In fact, it might even be fun. Start out by asking your students to define poetry. You may find that it’s hard for them to put into words what exactly poetry is, and this is where they can learn that poetry has many different definitions. Poetry is one thing for a certain person and another thing for someone else. The beauty of poetry is based in its versatility. 

You can ask students to bring in a few lines from a song that they think is poetic. This will get them thinking about what poetry entails, and it definitely opens up the floor for discussion. It also makes poetry personal! 

After this exercise, you can share a few poems that you bring in and read them aloud to the class. Let the poems sit with them over the course of a few days, and continue coming back to them and having students think and rethink what they heard and what it might mean. 

Poetry lesson plan objectives may include your students being able to identify the essential elements of a poem, recognize poetry from a variety of different cultures, understand poetry as a literary art form, recognize rhythm, metrics, and other musical elements of poetry, refine literary analysis skills, and enhance critical thinking. 

Poetry Lesson Plans: Elementary

Poetry lesson plans elementary version can be somewhat tricky to navigate. Whether you’re looking for a kindergarten poetry unit or 5th grade poetry lesson plans, it’s important to introduce poetry to children at a young age so they can grow with the art as they continue to learn more about it. If you’re looking for how to impart the world of poetry onto your elementary students, then you’ve come to the right place. 

Teaching elementary to young kids in a way that will help them be successful involves an introduction that is in-depth and full of all kinds of poetry. Through these poetry lessons, you will:

   • Share and discuss children’s poems
   • Write a poem together as a class
   • Write a poem yourself, as the teacher, in front of the class
   • Have a few mini-lessons on the different elements of poetry
   • Have a brainstorming session before breaking into independent writing
   • Have the students write a poem independently
   • Share and celebrate your students’ writing

By sharing poems written by other children, you’re sharing the message with your class that kids like them have written poems and that they can too. Writing poetry shouldn’t be an activity that is constrained in any way or one that requires strict rules. Students should enjoy writing poetry and it should be allowed to come easily to them as they flex their creative muscles. 

Poetry activities for elementary students may involve identifying these aspects of a poem:

   • Topic
   • Word choice
   • Expression of feelings
   • Rhythm
   • Shape
   • Line breaks
   • Title
   • Ending line
   • Special or missing punctuation

After finishing reading through poems, it’s key to ask elementary students what they noticed and what they liked, as this will get them thinking about the ways to pick poetry apart and analyze it. 

Poetry Lesson Plans: Middle School

Poetry lessons for middle school may look a bit different than those used in an elementary school setting, but the bones of the lesson remain mostly the same. 

Here are a few examples of poetry lesson plans middle school:

Compare two poems and create a Venn diagram that shows where they’re alike and where they differ. 
Good examples to use for this could be “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman and “I, Too, Sing America” by Langston Hughes. Along with the diagram, have your class research the backgrounds of both poets along with historical events that could have influenced them. 

Utilize allegory. 
Have your students read a poem that utilizes the literary device of allegory - for example, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is a good choice here. Ask your students to read the poem to themselves, deduce what the poem may stand for, then relate it to a time in their lives when they chose the ‘road less traveled.’ 

Read out loud - and have fun!
Reading poems out loud is a big part of their beauty, and some poems are written with the specific intent of being read out loud. Take “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll for example - first, have your students read it to themselves, then have a few of them do a dramatic reading and see how the poem changes when it’s read out loud. You can also have them go through and underline all the nonsense words and think about how those words add to the poem itself. 

Use imagery.
Poems use imagery to ignite the senses. Find a poem that relies heavily on this tool, like “Oranges” by Gary Soto, and have your students close their eyes as you read it aloud. Have them make note of how the author makes use of their senses, includes detail, and brings the poem to life. Then have them try to write their own poem that achieves the same thing!

Poetry Lesson Plans: High School

When it comes to poetry lesson plans high school, it can be hard to keep your students’ interest. But while it may be difficult, it’s possible! If you’re looking for something that fulfills the requirements of a poetry lesson plan high school and keeps kids engaged, then take a look at these ideas: 

Texting couplets
This helps to get students’ minds working when it comes to rhythm and rhyming. Texting is a language that most high schoolers are very comfortable with, and if you create a lesson out of writing out text messages back and forth in the form of poetic couplets, you’ve got a great learning opportunity on your hands. 

Analyzing music
Most high schoolers, even the most reluctant of students, are intrigued by how music and poetry coincide. You can select a popular song that has literary elements that the whole class can analyze. 

Poetry inspired by pictures
There are tons of different ways that you can get students inspired by photos. You can ask them to use wordless picture books, family photos, political cartoons, famous paintings, etc. to ignite their creativity and write a poem based on what they see.

Group poem video
High school students tend to enjoy making videos, so there’s no better way to encourage the love of poetry than through this type of media. You can have each student in the group write a stanza of a poem and make a video, then have the group come together and mesh the clips together in the order they find that works the best.

It’s true that high school students are not always the easiest to engage, but with creative lesson plans like this, you’ll be surprised (and they will, too) at how fun poetry can actually be.

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