High School English Lesson Plan: Poetry (Part 1)
Here is a High School English Lesson Plan for Poetry
High School English Lesson Plan: Poetry
Each lesson in the Adolescent Literacy Toolkit is designed to support students through the reading/learning process by providing instruction before, during, and after reading/learning.
Note that lessons incorporate the gradual release of responsibility model. When this model is used within a single lesson and over several lessons, students are provided with enough instruction and guidance to use the literacy strategies on their own. The following lesson includes some examples of explicit instruction and modeling, guided practice, and independent practice, but students need more practice and feedback than is possible within the context of a single lesson.
Bold print indicates a direct link to the Content Area Literacy Guide where readers will find descriptions of literacy strategies, step-by-step directions for how to use each strategy, and quadrant charts illustrating applications across the four core content disciplines.
The following lesson plan and lesson narrative show English teachers how they can incorporate the use of literacy strategies to support high school students to learn content and concepts related to the study of poetry. The lesson is designed for one block period (80–90 minutes) or two traditional classes (50 minutes).
NCTE Standards: 1. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions of human experience. 2. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts.
Content Learning Outcome: Students will practice visualizing, analyzing, and responding to poetic language, including how poets use conventions like imagery, figurative language, and symbols to appeal to both the intellect and the senses.
Literacy Support Strategies and Instruction
Before reading/learning: Visualization (modeling and whole group practice) and Save the Last Word for Me (modeling)
• Materials: Chalk/markers and board/chart paper for students to write on, chart paper for poetic conventions
During reading/learning: Save the Last Word for Me (individual preparation and modeling)
• Materials: Index cards (or plain copy paper folded into four quadrants), copy of the poem Abandoned Farmhouse by Ted Kooser, and text copy of poem on overhead
After reading/learning: Save the Last Word for Me (small group practice)
• Materials: Index cards, copy of the poem, and paper and pen for the note taker in each group
Before Reading/Learning (20 minutes)
Literacy outcome: Students will use visualization to connect the power of language to evoke images and aesthetic responses in relation to the reading of poetry.
1) At the beginning of the poetry unit, tell students they will be focusing on visualization and personal response as they discuss poems.
2) Tell students they will be discussing a poem called Abandoned Farmhouse. Ask students to close their eyes for 30 seconds and form a picture of what an abandoned farmhouse might look like. Prompt students to think about the sensory details—the sounds, smells, sights, things they might touch or taste—that come to mind when they visualize an abandoned farmhouse. At the end of the 30 seconds, invite students to do a Chalk Talk, silently taking turns writing a word on the board that describes their images of an abandoned farmhouse. Then lead a short discussion of the Chalk Talk to help consolidate thinking about this image and formulate a group prediction for the poem they are about to discuss.
3) Review these four poetic conventions: figurative language, imagery, symbols, and tone, eliciting definitions and examples from students. Record the terms, definitions, and examples on chart paper to be used as a reference throughout the lesson. Clarify terms and elaborate on examples as needed.
During Reading/Learning (35 minutes)
Literacy outcome: Students will read a poem closely, noting lines that prompted images or provoked a sensory response in them and articulating the reason behind the image or response.
1) Tell students they will be reading and then discussing the poem using a strategy called Save the Last Word for Me. Students will be identifying lines that create a particularly strong image or response. Using the overhead projector, show the first four lines of the poem:
"Abandoned Farmhouse" by Ted Kooser
He was a big man, says the size of his shoes
on a pile of broken dishes by the house;
a tall man too, says the length of the bed
in an upstairs room;
2) Read the first four lines of the first stanza aloud to the class. Model how you would identify a powerful image and a sensory response that resonated strongly with you as you interpreted the four lines.
3) Reveal the last four lines of the stanza on the overhead. Ask students to read these lines and select one they think is easy to visualize in their heads or one that provokes some sort of emotional or sensory response in them.
and a good, God-fearing man,
says the Bible with a broken back
on the floor below the window, dusty with sun;
but not a man for farming, say the fields
cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn.
4) Ask four students to come up to the front of the room with their chairs and their note cards. Tell the four students they are going to help you demonstrate how Save the Last Word for Me works, sharing an image or sensory response that resonated with them in the first stanza. Tell the other students to watch closely because these students are going to help you model what you want everyone to do.
5) Tap one student on the shoulder and ask him/her to read one of the vivid lines s/he selected but not to share why the line was selected. Tap the student to the left and ask the student to respond to the line selected and read by the first student. Suggest that this might be a personal response, an interpretation of what the line means, or the type of figurative language the line uses. Listen to the second person respond to the line selected by the first. Then ask the third and fourth students to each take a turn responding to the same line. Explain that the person who originally shared the line then explains why s/he selected it and how s/he thinks the poet uses language to create the power of the line. Ask the first student to do this and listen to the response. Thank the students and ask them to return to their seats.
6) Tell the students that this is why the protocol is called Save the Last Word for Me. Explain that a “round” is complete when all four people have shared one of their cards and had the opportunity to have the last word. Reinforce that it is okay if more than one student selects the same line because they might have different reasons to do so. Group members should add to their earlier comments, or repeat them if this is the case, and should discuss why this line is so powerful.
7) Debrief the student modeling to clarify the process for the class.
8) Discuss with the class how listening to the group use the strategy helped them make meaning of or get the gist of the first stanza of the poem. Ask a few students to share their thinking aloud with the group.
9) Hand out copies of the poem and four index cards. Ask students to record as they read, on one side of each card, a line or lines that generate a powerful image or sensory response like you just modeled with the line you selected. Ask students to note the stanza (2 or 3) where the line is found. On the other side of each card, students should write down why they selected that line and how the author used figurative language, imagery, symbols, or tone to make this image powerful. Each student should fill out two cards for each stanza. Note that an image or reaction might be powerful because of a personal response, but ask students to also think about how the poet uses language to provoke a response.
10) Tell students they will be using their cards as the basis for a conversation with fellow students in small groups of four using the Save the Last Word for Me protocol when they have finished reading the poem and recording their thinking on the index cards.