Classify by Topic
- Grades: 6–8
- Unit Plan:
- Establish a personal strategy for analyzing poetry.
- Evaluate poetry to form an opinion of personal preference for poetic style.
- Identify a poem’s theme, mood, and author’s purpose.
- Poems based on various themes, such as nature, death, friendship/loneliness, or overcoming adversity
- Pencil and paper (or writing journals)
- Become a Telescope (PDF) from 50 Reproducible Strategy Sheets That Build Comprehension During Independent Reading: Engaging Forms That Guide Students to Use Reading Strategies and Recognize Literary Elements and Help You Assess Comprehension by Anina Robb
- 6 Questions from Lesson One
Set Up and PrepareMake copies of the Become a Telescope printable, one per student or group. Divide students into groups of 4-5 students each. Depending on the number of groups you have, choose a variety of poems based on the same theme so that each group has a different poem. Prepare copies of the poems for each group. Here is a suggested list of themes and poems:
Theme of Death
- “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson
- “Tie the Strings to My Life, My Lord” by Emily Dickinson
- “The Forgotten Grave” by Emily Dickinson
- “The Reaper and the Flowers” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- “Resignation” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman
Theme of Friendship and/or Loneliness
- "I'm Nobody. Who are you?" by Emily Dickinson
- "How to Eat Alone" by Daniel Halpern
- "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost
- "A Time to Talk" by Robert Frost
- "The Village Blacksmith" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- "Alone" by Edgar Allen Poe
- "Friends" by William Butler Yeats
Theme of Overcoming Adversity
- "And Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou
- "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou
- "Sympathy" by Paul Laurence Dunbar
- "I, Too, Sing America" by Langston Hughes
- "Dream Variations" by Langston Hughes
Theme of Nature
- "Stars" by Robert Frost
- "A Late Walk" by Robert Frost
- "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost
- "The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" by William Wordsworth
Step 1: Divide students into groups of 4 or 5, and provide each group a different poem. These poems should be similar in form, theme, or mood. Briefly summarize each poem. Recall the 6 questions from Lesson One. Inform students that they will be answering these questions to determine the poem’s mood and purpose with a new poem as well as completing a handout.
Step 2: Introduce the Become a Telescope printable. Instruct each group member to preview the poem, participate in a choral reading of the poem, and then record thoughts on the printable. Discussing the poem in a group setting allows students to practice summarizing ideas brought up in academic conversation.
Step 3: Instruct the groups to dramatize the poem for the rest of the class, incorporating their interpretation of the poem’s mood, form, and author’s purpose. The students may choose to perform however they wish, with different voices, props, or dramatic effects.
Step 4: After performing the poem, have students explain the form of the poem, highlighting the rhyme scheme and apparent author’s purpose.
Step 5: After each group has presented, have the class identify the theme of each poem.
Step 6: Instruct the students to respond to the poem they performed with their group by completing a journal entry.
Step 7: Show students the relationship between prose and poetry by having them write their own poem based on the ideas from their journal entry. Have students highlight important words and phrases from the entry, and then write a poem using those ideas. A strong response poem would take the same form as the original poem. To differentiate instruction for the lower level readers, have these students draw a picture representing all elements of the poem. This is a creative way guaranteed to encourage participation by all students.
Supporting All Learners
The opportunity to work with their peers offers all students the same chance for success. Allow struggling students to respond to poetry through illustrations.
Integrate the use of music and lyrics as a prompt for students. Encourage the students to write parodies to respond to the song.
Have the parents participate in a double-entry journal. The students should divide the journal page into two columns. On one side of the journal entry, the students will respond to a poem. On the other side, the students will invite a parent or other family member to write a response to the poem. Students can then share the parent's point of view in class the next day while in small groups.
The student’s ability to participate in group discussions and to complete the writing activity will give you an idea of how well the students understand the elements of poetry.
Evaluate the Become a Telescope printable and group answers to the 6 questions Observe participation during the performance of the poem Use a rubric to assign a grade to the writing activity