Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Espresso Your Feelings in Poetry

Dee Camp-White


Students discover that using descriptive, figurative, and vivid language to write “free verse” can be a fun form of self-expression. Students create poems using online resources and share their creations in a “coffeehouse” setting.


The student demonstrates a command of the language including precise word choice and use of appropriate figurative language.

The student uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the format (for example, using appropriate voice; using descriptive language to clarify ideas and create vivid images; using elements of style, such as appropriate tone).

The student uses electronic technology appropriate to writing tasks (including but not limited to the Internet, databases and software) to create, revise, retrieve, and verify information.


-Computers with Internet access and MS Word, connected to printer
-One or more volumes of Shel Silverstein’s poetry. Titles include: WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS, A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC, FALLING UP (all published by Harper Collins).
-Copy of opening read-aloud “Do You Like Poetry?” (See website listed below)
-Copies of student handout and rubric (see associated file)


1. Become familiar with metaphor, simile, alliteration and personification and poetic structures (including free verse) by studying the descriptions and examples on the Websites listed below or content presented in a language arts textbook or writer’s manual used at your school.
2. Determine a plan for student access to computers with Internet connectivity and MS Word. Ideally, the class could be scheduled for several time blocks in a computer lab or media center with multiple workstations. Otherwise, devise a plan for students to have equal access to available computers to complete the activities on the student handout. Plan other poetry-related activities for groups of students not using the computers during class time. Adjust lesson time frame to accommodate your particular computer schedule.
3. Pre-teach or review writing terminology and concepts such as descriptive words, transition words, vivid language, voice, mood.
4. Make copies of the student learning activities handout and rubric for each student (see associated file).
5. Obtain a container and blank paper for putting in slips of paper with suggested poem topics.
6. Set deadline date for poem completion. Gather props for “coffeehouse” poetry readings (stool, microphone, soft music in background, etc.) Get student input.


1. Begin by asking students, “ Do you like poetry?” Many students will respond that they don’t. Some may mention having read the poetry of Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky, which is humorous and fun. Select one or two poems by one or both of these poets to read aloud to the class.

2. Next, read aloud the piece “Do You Like Poetry?” found at this website: Do You Like Poetry? at

3. Ask students for examples of song lyrics or commercial jingles that they enjoy and find especially memorable. Ask again, “Do you like poetry?” and most students will now respond in the affirmative.

4. Continue the discussion by asking students to name different forms of poetry, names of poets, recite a few lines of poetry, etc. in order to informally assess students’ prior knowledge of this literary form.

5. Tell the class that much of their study of poetry will be conducted on the World Wide Web. Distribute a handout of the Web activities (see associated file). Make a copy of the handout, created in MS Word, available on disk since the Websites will be “active” or hot-linked when inserted into a computer that is online. (This eliminates time spent typing in the Web addresses and ensures accuracy.) Another timesaver is to “bookmark” the Websites in advance. Web-based activities could also be put on the school or teacher’s Web page.

6. The instructional stages are indicated on the student handout. At times, each student will work with a partner during a “peer review and coaching” session. Determine how partners will be selected or assigned. You know what works best for your group! You may want to pair a solid reader with a struggling reader for support with the Website readings.

7. During a question and answer period, clarify any questions students may have about the instructions on the student handout of instructional steps and rubric (see associated file).

8. Circulate and assist as students access the websites and write figurative language for practice. Provide feedback on accuracy of sentences using figurative language.

9. Prepare a container and slips of paper for collecting student-written topics for poems. Shake up the contents of the “pot” and let each student select one slip of paper. This will be the topic for an original poem to be written by each student. Share the rubric (see associated file) for the evaluation of the completed poem and reflection with the class. Announce the deadline date for completion of the poem and the reflection.

10. Circulate and assist as students brainstorm, write, revise, and publish poems. Provide feedback and deliver -mini-lessons- as necessary.

11. Tell students the date and time that their poems will be read aloud to the class at an “Open Mic Night” in a “coffeehouse” setting. Ask if any of them have attended such an event at a bookstore, college, etc. With the class, brainstorm
what “props” you might need to create the “coffeehouse” effect. This can be as simple or elaborate as time and class interest permit.

12. Use the rubric (see associated file) for assessment.


1. Informally assess prior knowledge of poetry during initial class discussion.
2. Formative assessment and feedback will be ongoing as students complete the Internet readings, write practice sentences, and compose their poems.
3. Formatively assess computer skills during work sessions. Students should be able to navigate through the PowerPoint slides on the sites and use an appropriate electronic tool to write their poems. Provide mini-lessons as needed.
4. Use rubric for formative feedback during writing. Students will be demonstrating a command of the language they are using (figurative language) and will be using creative writing strategies. Modify as you deem necessary.


1. Prior knowledge and skills required:
a. Students need to have basic computer skills in use of a web browser and MS Word.
b. They also need to have prior experience in writing a reflection or reflective journal entry following a learning experience. You will need to model and provide examples of the reflection. Here is an example: “The topic I chose was “babies”. Since babies are soft and always changing, I chose descriptive words that were “soft”, and since everyone loves babies, I talked about love and caring. I used the online thesaurus to help me find better words to use. At first, I wished I had picked a different topic, since I don’t know much about babies, but once I got started, I remembered things from movies and TV, and I really got into it.”

2. You may want to teach and/or review stages and terminology of the writing process, such as brainstorm, write, revise, edit, publish, as well as terms such as descriptive language, vivid language, mood, etc.

3. This lesson could be the first lesson in an extensive, interdisciplinary poetry unit that correlates to a historical time period that is being covered in social studies at the same time.

4. A discussion of rap as “urban poetry” may be motivating for some groups. Caution: many commercial rap CDs contain x-rated themes and language. Listen to a song in its entirety before using it in class as an example. Will Smith’s CD “Big Willie Style” may be appropriate for your use.

5. Allow students to convert their poetry to song lyrics by adding music. Perform the poem aloud again. Encourage the class to discuss how music enhances or detracts from the impact or meaning of the original poem.

6. Modifications: The entire lesson could be completed using printed materials if computer access is unavailable.

7. ESOL students: “Descriptive”, “figurative” or “vivid” language may be a difficult concept for these students. Provide many examples of plain language restated using vivid or descriptive language or one of the forms of figurative language. Use gestures and pictures to assist comprehension.

Web Links

These poetry sites will be needed for this lesson:
Shel Silverstein's Poetry

Web supplement for Espresso Your Feelings in Poetry
Jack Prelutsky's Poetry

For the opening read-aloud.
“Do You Like Poetry?”

Poetry Powerpoint Presentation
Power Point

Web supplement for Espresso Your Feelings in Poetry
Meriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus

Web supplement for Espresso Your Feelings in Poetry
Rhyming Word Generator website

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