Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Out of the Dust 4

Vicky Nichols
Bay District Schools


After reading the novel, OUT OF THE DUST, students create a free-verse poem about a treasure.


The student demonstrates a command of the language (including but not limited to precise word choice, appropriate figurative language).

The student uses an effective organizational pattern and substantial support to achieve a sense of completeness or wholeness (for example, considering audience, sequencing events, choosing effective words; using specific details to clarify meaning).

The student uses words and images that best express intended messages.

The student uses figurative language techniques to create and comprehend meaning (for example, similes, metaphors, analogies, anecdotes, sensory language).


-Hesse, Karen. OUT OF THE DUST. New York: Scholastic, 1999. (One per student)


Become familiar with the reading selection indicated in the procedures.


Additonal lessons on the novel are available. They are: Out of the Dust 1, Out of the Dust 2, and Out of the Dust 4.

Prior knowledge: Students should have read the book or, at least, be past the selection indicated. They should have also been introduced to similes, metaphors, personification, alliteration and onomatopoeia.

Have students reread pages 193-194 (first entry of Summer, l935).
Ask a student to read these pages aloud.

1. Ask students what these two pages are about. Elicit that this is a communication written about Billie Jo’s beloved piano written in free verse form.

2. Ask students to point out the similes, metaphors, and personification examples. Point out that Billie Jo talks to the piano as though it is alive, telling the piano what it means to her.

3. Ask students to think of a tangible object that is important to them. Tell them to choose only one object and write the choice at the top of a sheet of paper. (objects must be tangible)

4. Instruct them that they are going to create a free verse poem about that object. The purpose of the poem is to make the reader understand just how important that object is to the writer.

5. Review the definitions of similes, metaphors, alliteration, and personification. Students must include at least 3 examples of figurative language in their poetry. Encourage students to brainstorm comparisons, feelings, shapes, textures, uses, and the influences of the object in their daily lives. Allow students to use a graphic organizer to jot down their ideas. Allow them to look back in the novel.

6. Assure students that this piece of poetry is personal and will only be shared if they choose to do so. Discuss the criteria on the checklist that will be used for grading purposes.


The poem that the students create is the assessment. Use the checklist to formatively assess their ability to communicate using figurative language and word choice.

Checklist: Allow students to assess their own poems first, then the teacher can complete the checklist. Please read the note following checklist.

Answer Yes or No:
1. The poem creates an image that lets the reader know what is being talked about. _______
2. The poem contains examples of:
3. The examples of figurative language are appropriate and create a word image to help the reader “see” the object._______
4. The poem contains verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that are precise and not common or worn-out.________
5. The poem is written in poetic form.________
6. There are many details concerning the object that let the reader know what it looks like, how it sounds, how it feels, or what it does.________
7. The poem can be understood and appreciated by middle school students._________
8. After seeing the poem, the reader knows how important the object is to the author.______

**A student whose poem does not meet the criteria listed on the checklist should have an opportunity to rework the poem. Since words do not come easily to some students, allow them to orally tell you what the object is, what it feels like, looks like, how it relates to the student, etc. Jot down the ideas they express and then allow them to rearrange and rewrite until the poem meets the criteria. Although a rubric would indicate the level of the criteria achieved by the student, writing poetry is an art and giving a high grade to those born with the talent doesn’t seem fair under a contrived writing situation like this one.


Students may illlustrate their poetry if desired.
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