Here is a list of the activities connected to our poetry unit. You will also be able to find resources that you may find helpful.

Poetry Paper Components

How to Read a Poem (And Then Write About It) — This is a handout to help guide students in annotating their poem of choice (from the Poetry Out Loud website — at least 15 lines). They will need to thoroughly go through their poem that they choose and annotate it well. Once they have completed this process, they will then begin working on their poem analysis (explication) paper.

***Questions you should be able to answer after annotating a poem:

  1. What is the theme of the poem?
  2. What kind of strategies does the author use to point out the theme?
  3. What is the tone of the poem? What is the mood of the poem?
  4. What kind of strategies does the author use to make the tone or the mood clear?
  5. How does the figurative language impact the poem as a whole?
  6. How does the punctuation/number of syllables/ rhyme scheme impact the poem as a whole?

Poetry Terms Handout — This handout is a resource for students to use in order to review poetic terms and devices to help guide them as they read and analyze poetry (courtesy of Ms. Clark).

Tone and Mood words — Here is  list of words that authors can use to help convey a variety of tones and moods. This handout is a resource to help guide students in deciphering different poems’ tones and/or moods (courtesy of Ms. Clark).

Poetry Analysis (Exemplification) Essay Prompt — With this essay, students will be choosing a poem of their choice (from the Poetry Out Loud website) that has a minimum of 15 lines. After practicing annotation skills in class together, students will put these skills to practice by annotating the poem they choose. Then they will follow the prompt provided to write their analysis paper.

  • Outline Template — Students need to use this template to help guide them as they construct their outline, and ultimately their essay.
  • Example Thesis StatementIn “The Road Not Taken” Robert Frost develops his nuanced theme of carpe diem through meter, strong symbols, and discreet irony.
    • (This is meant to act as a guide to help students develop their own strong thesis statements.)
  • To review how to embed or integrate quotes into a body paragraph, review the revised link below (courtesy of Mrs. O’Connor and Ms. Clark).

Poetry Portfolio Components

******Poetry Portfolio Assignment Sheet & Rubric — Here is a list of the requirements for the final poetry portfolio, as well as how it will be scored. It will be worth a total of 75 points (for the portfolio itself). Students will need to have a hard copy (in the portfolio format) and also submit everything to Turnitin.com in one Google Docs document — each poem on a separate sheet of that document (15 points for this portion). The total project (both portions) will be worth 90 points.

Exercises, Activities, Poem Notes — Leading up to final products

Free Write Exercise — At some point during class when we are doing these exercises, students are asked to write for 8 minutes while a timer is counting down. There is a projected image that each can see, and they need to create a story based on that image. They must write for the entire time. At the end of the time, we go around the class and some students share what they create.

Free Verse Poem Activity — Students need to choose one of the paragraph stories that they wrote about one of the five images they were presented with. Once they choose their paragraph, they need to go through and underline or circle strong images, descriptions, similes, metaphors, etc. Once they have done that, they need to figure out the theme of their piece and what they’re trying to say. They can add to and change elements of their stories if they so choose.

After completing these initial steps, students need to start figuring out what elements they have to work with, as well as what elements they want to make sure are in their pieces (stanzas, images, word choice [diction], metaphor, simile, symbol, etc). Then they need to begin creating a free verse poem based on this story. In a free verse poem, there is minimal rhyme scheme (because otherwise it becomes formulaic and is distracting from their story). They need to figure out a perspective from which to tell their poem (omniscient, from a “character” in the image, from an object in the image, etc). There is no set form to follow (like a sonnet), but their poem still needs to have poetic elements and structure (stanzas, metaphors, etc) — they are in charge of figuring out what works best for them. ***It needs to be a minimum of at least 10 strong lines.

Image Poem #2 (Free Verse) — Students must choose their own strong image (or they can choose a different one from the choices we used in class) and then must create a free verse poem based on that image. They need to have strong sensory details (images) throughout and still focus on incorporating poetic elements as well (stanzas, metaphors, etc.). They need to think of it as me being able to have a pile of poems and a pile of images, and I should be able to match them up easily. ***It needs to be a minimum of at least 10 strong lines.

Music Lyrics Annotation Activity (Courtesy of Mr. Hussey) — Students need to choose a song of their choice and print off a hard copy of it. They need to go through and find the poetic devices found in their song lyrics (highlight or use different colored pens to represent each element). ***Note: not all poetic devices listed will be found in the song lyrics — focus on finding the ones there. Then they need to go through and annotate the poem–find elements they connect with or that stand out to them and comment on it. They can draw arrows to places in the margins to write their notes. They also need to indicate why they chose the song that they did and what connection they have to the song and/or lyrics.

Song Lyric Poem (Free Verse) — Students must compose an original poem (minimum of 15 strong lines) and incorporate 2-4 lines from the song they annotated previously. The lines do not have to be connected. Students need to bold the lines from their song in their own original poem.

“Not Waving but Drowning” Poem by Stevie Smith – This poem by Stevie Smith is a short poem to help engage students with the analysis process through visualization.

“Not Waving but Drowning” Activity (Courtesy of Mr. Hussey) — Students are given a copy of the poem in front of them, it is projected, and I read it to the class. Students then, as a whole group, begin discussing the poem and what they notice about it (any words they didn’t know, strong images, message/meaning, etc). Then, I read the poem to them while they have their eyes closed and they visualize it. Once I finish reading it, the students then have a half sheet of paper and they draw the poem. We discuss their images, and then they draw themselves into the poem and explain why they position themselves where they do in the scene.

Group Poem Annotation Activity — Students are numbered into small groups and each group is assigned a different poem. As a group, students need to find the poetic devices in their group’s poem. They also need to annotate the poem (indicate lines that stand out to them and why; words or phrases that evoke strong images; anything that creates questions; etc). Students also need to write down the theme and overall meaning of the poem and its significance. Students will then read their poems to the class, discuss what they find, as well as the overall meaning and significance.

  • Poem #1 — “Do not go gently into that good night” (Dylan Thomas)
  • Poem #2 — “A Dream Within a Dream” (Edgar Allan Poe)
  • Poem #3 — “Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House” (Billy Collins)
  • Poem #4 — “A Poison Tree” (William Blake)

I am Poem Activity — Students must follow the format provided in this template. Students need to focus on being distinctive and different. They need to focus on how they stand out and what makes them unique? They need to make sure their first line is really strong because it repeats itself multiple times throughout the poem.

Pantoum Poem Activity — Students were provided this template and examples in class. They need to work on creating a pantoum by following the provided template. They need to have a minimum of four (4) quatrains (4-line stanzas) and must follow the pattern provided. They may choose whatever topic they would like for this poem.

Pantoum Notes — Here are some notes to help provide some further guidance and explanation for the format and how to follow it.

Cinquain Examples and Outline (courtesy of Read Write Think). Students must complete three (3) of these for their portfolios.

Haiku Organizer — This is a link to help students write their own Haiku poems. It does not generate them for you, but it helps you brainstorm and organize your thoughts. It is just meant as a tool, but not a necessity to use as long as you follow the format (courtesy of Read Write Think). Students must complete three (3) of these for their portfolios.