- Identify unique characteristics of the poetry genre
- Practice poetry writing skills such as rhythm, rhyming, and descriptive vocabulary
- Follow the writing process to create original poetry
- Understand how to review and revise their own writing
- Poetry: Writing With Writers Activity
- Poetry Writing With Jack Prelutsky
- Writing I Spy Riddles With Jean Marzollo
- Poetry Writing With Karla Kuskin
- Optional: Poetry Idea Engine
- Computer access for students
- Whiteboard or chart paper for class discussions
- Journals (or blank writing paper) for student note-taking
- Optional: Poetry resources from Writing With Writers Books and Resources
The Poetry Writing project features three authors whose works expose students to various characteristics of poetry, such as powerful description, rhythm, and rhyming. Each of the writers offers models of his or her work as well as suggestions for students. Students are introduced to warm-up exercises, and other tips to help them create, revise, and share their work. An ongoing journal component is included in the Teacher's Guide to provide students with a personal portfolio they can use to organize, information, notes, and their own poems in process.
Although you may wish to use elements from all three workshops in your poetry lesson, the following grade configuration is a suggestion: Jack Prelutsky's writing workshop is aimed at younger students from grades 1-4; a riddle writing project with author Jean Marzollo targets students from grades 2-5; and Karla Kuskin's writing tips will be most appropriate with more advanced readers and writers between the grades of 4-8.
Project Components: Writing With Writers Activities
Poetry Writing With Jack Prelutsky
Students discover how to shape ideas and words into creative, descriptive, and silly poems. Popular children's poet Jack Prelutsky provides students with an example of his own poetry accompanied by an audio clip of him reading the poem. He also shares writing tips that he uses when he writes poetry. Students get to show what they learned when Jack challenges them to continue a poem he has begun. Jack also provides students with guidelines for revising their writing.
Writing I Spy Riddles With Jean Marzollo
Author Jean Marzollo leads students on a poetry writing journey using her riddle-writing style from the award-winning I Spy series. Using models of her published riddles and photographs from her books, Ms. Marzollo turns a complex writing style into a simple format that young students can copy and extend.
Poetry Writing With Karla Kuskin
Students learn to write poems with help from award-winning poet Karla Kuskin. Karla provides students with a sample poem, plus writing tips, strategies, and challenges to help them create their own poetry. She also gives students guidelines on revising their writing, and provides general comments, suggestions, and ideas about writing poetry.
Poetry Idea Engine
Students can practice writing their own poems with the Poetry Idea Engine. Developed with GoCyberCamp, this engine allows students to explore several types of poems including limericks, haikus, cinquains, and free verses.
Collaborative Poem With Jack Prelutsky
On April 21, 2004, Jack Prelutsky moderated a live poem written by students online. Read the transcript of the poem with Jack's comments.
Project Introduction (1 Day)
Invite students to discuss what they know about poetry. Go through a book of well-known poems with students, and read some favorites. Have students discuss poems that they know. Ask: How are poems different from stories? Begin a poetry web on the whiteboard. Ask volunteers to contribute ideas they feel should be part of the graphic. Then distribute poetry journals to students. Collaborate on a list of ways students will use the journal (include poems and note-taking). Ask students to create a journal entry about what they've learned that they think will be helpful to remember.
Building Background (3–5 Days)
Introduce students to the poetry styles of the author that best suits the needs of your class. Allow students time to visit the pages and read author bios or print pages for independent reading. You may wish to read aloud with your students. Encourage students to take notes in their journals. Suggest they write about what interests each author about the genre or any other interesting tips about writing.
Have a volunteer read aloud a poem from one or each of the three writers: Karla Kuskin, Jack Prelutsky, and Jean Marzollo. Then have students discuss their thoughts about each poem. Write informative responses on the chalkboard. Ask them to pay attention to punctuation marks to help them understand the rhythm of a poem. If applicable, encourage students to compare and contrast elements in the pieces. Ask: How are they similar? Which poem did you like best? Why? Have students create a list of features that make each poem unique. Write these on the chalkboard. Have students contribute any relevant information to their journals.
Pre-Writing (2–3 Days)
Let students know that they will be writing original poems. Point out that poetry, like any other writing genre, has its own rules, and that these rules will help students construct their own poems. Encourage students to visit the tips page for the poet they are working with. You may wish to promote all writing styles by visiting each site.
Work with students as a class to develop the first tip. Create a rhyming wall on the chalkboard. Divide it into three columns, one for each "syllable" word. Encourage students to use made-up words as well. Discuss why rhyming might be a good tool to use in poems. Then suggest students work in groups to do activities 2 and 3.
Visit her "Write Your Own Poem Riddle" page for riddle writing tips or Riddle Writing Hints. Share an I Spy book with students, if possible, to familiarize them with the poetic style. Tap out the rhythmic pattern with students as they read. Read aloud Jean Marzollo's "Write Your Own I Spy Riddle" page with students. Encourage students to view the published pieces of poetry to use as models for their own work. Invite them to tour the I Spy gallery for models.
Have students read in pairs, and drill one another on what they've read. Point out that Ms. Kuskin uses a style called free verse, which has very few distinct rules or boundaries. Ask them to notice the verses in her poem. Have students compare various ones. Let them know that the rhythm, or cadence, of free verse varies throughout her poem. Though the words don't rhyme, they flow along an uneven pattern. Encourage writers to draft a preliminary piece of work. Remind them to implement Kuskin's use of description in a free-verse style. Then have partners exchange their work and check that it responds to each of Karla's suggestions.
Print out the list of ten tips and post it in the classroom for reference as students write. Invite all students to discuss authors' tips and share which ones they think they would find particularly useful for their projects. Encourage students to contribute any tips, ideas, or poems in the style of the guiding writers in their journals.
Now, it's time for students to draft their poems. Suggest that they read the ideas presented in their poet's "Write Your Poem" page before they attempt their own work. You may wish to review these aloud. Post the writing rubric in the classroom for students to use as a guideline for what is expected of their poems.
Jack Prelutsky: Have students refer to Jack Prelutsky's Write Your Poem page. Suggest that they read all three poems first. Then after choosing the one they like best, have them extend it to create their own version of the poem.
Jean Marzollo: Encourage students to write four lines of a riddle poem. Remind them to notice the placement of rhyming words and punctuation.
Karla Kuskin: Encourage students to follow the directions in her Write Your Poem page. If time permits, assign the second poem as a take-home piece.
Remind all students to refer to the "My Poem" and "Brainstorming" activities and their journals as they draft their poems.
Revising (2 Days)
When students are done with their drafts, have them exchange papers with a peer for comments. Partners can write their comments on the draft itself. Then have students follow the revising guidelines. While students revise their drafts, have them check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes.
Publishing (1 Day)
Once students have completed their final revisions, have them type their final writing to create a polished final project.
Project Wrap-Up (2–3 Days)
Give students time to complete any unfinished work. Use this time to schedule a poetry performance day. Assess students' proficiency with the poetry writing activity by consulting the appropriate poetry rubric. You may wish to review students' journal with them as well.
Visit the Anthology with students throughout the life of the project. Do one or all of the following activities with the Poetry Anthology:
- Have students visit this page during each step of the writing process.
- Encourage students to read submissions and choose the ones they feel best reflect the skills that were taught. Print them out as good writing models and post them in the classroom.
- Hold a critiquing circle. Have individual students feature a poem and discuss how it fulfills/doesn't fulfill the requirements of poetry as learned during this project.
- Challenge students to rework poems. Have them submit before and after works together.
- Invite students to treat poems as starters and extend them.
Have your class compile their poems into a class anthology. Students can create a table of contents, staple, and photocopy all the poems together. Then they may add the anthology to the school library. Students may wish to also make a book of their own "published" poems, and add drawings to illustrate each one.
Invite students can act out their poems, or create dance or movement pieces to accompany them.
Set up a special poetry hour, and ask your students to take turns reading their poems to the class. Invite other classes to take part, and ask questions.
Have students write their own poem-starters, then trade with a classmate to complete each other's poems.
Invite students to bring in copies of their favorite poems to read in class.
Encourage students to develop additional writing tips and challenges they think would be helpful for writing poetry. Have the rest of the class try them out.
Ask students to read one of Karla Kuskin's or Jack Prelutsky's books of poetry and analyze it using the tips and challenges that have been provided in this lesson.
Have students come up with a pattern scheme for a favorite poem. Students can transfer the pattern using other forms, such as numbers, letters, pictures, etc.
Use the appropriate rubric below to assess students' proficiency with the poetry activity he or she completed. Evaluate whether students' skills are improving or whether they may need additional support or instruction.
- 5: proficient; a high degree of competence
- 4: capable; an above-average degree of competence
- 3: satisfactory; a satisfactory degree of competence
- 2: emerging; a limited degree of competence
- 1: beginning; no key elements are adequately developed
|Uses word play, silly synonyms, and/or object observations.|
|Uses rhyme structure.|
|Follows the rhythm of Jack Prelutsky's poems.|
|Is enjoyable to read.|
|Overall Score (divide subtotal by 4)|
|Uses interesting words and/or phrase rhymes.|
|Uses rhythm structure of the I Spy riddles.|
|Follows Jean Marzollo's rules of punctuation.|
|Employs alliteration and/or assonance.|
|Is enjoyable to read.|
|Overall Score (divide subtotal by 5)|
|Uses rhythm structure of Karla Kuskin's poems.|
Describes a thing in a new or original way.
|Appeals to two or more of the five senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch.|
|Employs the use of adjectives and colorful language that make details vivid.|
|Is enjoyable to read.|
|Overall Score (divide subtotal by 5)|
Use the following guidelines to assess students' journals and proficiency with global project skills.
Does the journal:
- Demonstrate the acquisition of key skills?
- Include tips and discussion notes?
- Include pre-writing warm-up exercises?
- Include original poetry?
This project aids students in meeting national standards in several curriculum areas.
National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Reading Association (IRA) include:
- Read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world. (1)
- Read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience. (2)
- 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 non-print texts. (6)
- Use a variety of technological and informational resources (libraries, databases, computer networks) to gather and synthesize information in order to create and communicate knowledge. (8)
- Develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles. (9)
- Participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities. (11)
- Use spoken, written, and visual language for learning, persuasion, and exchange of information. (12)
Technology Foundation Standards for Students:
- Use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity
- Use technology tools to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences
- Use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences
- Use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources