Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Poetry Sings

Tim Chestnut


Students find and explicate literary terms exemplified in lyrics of songs which the students already enjoy.


The student understands that laws control the delivery and use of media to protect the rights of authors and the rights of media owners.

The student analyzes poetry for the ways in which poets inspire the reader to share emotions, such as the use of imagery, personification, and figures of speech, including simile, and metaphor; and the use of sound, such as rhyme, rhythm, repetion, and alliteration.

The student understands the use of images and sounds to elicit the reader's emotions in both fiction and nonfiction.

The student analyzes the relationships among author's style, literary form, and intended impact on the reader.


-CD player with good speakers or other audio technology
-Presentation software such as MS PowerPoint
-Internet access (optional)
-LCD projector and screen or similar presentation equipment
-Computer lab with enough stations for each student (or another arrangement which works at your site)
-Literature textbook or another suitable anthology which offers enough poems to include examples of the most important literary terms (See Lists in Associated File)
-Overhead transparencies or student copies of the Poetry Vocabulary List One and List Two (See Associated File)
-Checklist, one per student (See Associated File)


Prior to beginning the unit, the teacher should:
1. Assess the students' prior knowledge of PowerPoint. Either teach a separate lesson on this software (not included here), or use any other presentation technique that the users are comfortable with. (Abilities to use PowerPoint and other such software are NOT to be assessed, because they are NOT part of the course content.)
2. Acquire poems which contain examples of all the terms. (See Poetry Vocabulary Lists in Associated File) Find at least three examples of each which you think will train the students to recognize the term.
3. Plan the in-class discussion dates. Book the computer lab for dates interspersed with the discussion dates. Allow for 2 or 3 preliminary discussions before ever visiting the lab, then on the first lab visit, the students should work on those terms which have been covered. Then back to class, then the lab, etc., alternating lab time with class time to keep interest high in the class sessions and to keep content strong in the lab sessions.
4. Reserve the presentation room or the CD player, LCD projector, etc. for the presentation dates. (It'll take about three 75-minute periods to view 30 student shows.)
5. Prepare an overhead or copies of the Poetry Vocabulary Lists (See Associated File), display your timeline, download and copy the Checklist (See Associated File), and build some PowerPoint model slides for demonstration at the appropriate times.


To the teacher:
1. Present the definitions of the Poetry Vocabulary Lists (See Associated File) in a preliminary discussion with an example of typical usage to the students. Assess the students' knowledge of the definitions by using a matching test, for example. Breaking the list into two twenty-member sets (See List One and List Two in Associated File) and requiring the students to learn to spell them are helpful ways to assist the students to gain a working facility with the terms.

2. Present poems to the students which contain examples of the literary terms. Utilizing any literature textbook or other suitable source, initiate discussion of selected poems, 3-5 terms per day, explicating the terms as they appear in the poems. As the students gain facility with the terms, present other poems with further examples of each of the literary terms to the students until they have gained enough confidence to apply their knowledge independently with poems the teacher has not explained.

3. As a formative instrument, the students could select or be assigned one of the poems in the textbook to prepare for oral discussion. This student would then be the “teacher” of that poem with the responsibility of leading the class in a discussion of the set of literary terms in it. When the students are able to demonstrate comprehension of the terms as they appear in poems new to them, the teacher will know that they are ready to find examples of the terms in song lyrics that the students enjoy from the real world. This assignment would then serve as the summative assessment for the poetry unit.

To the student:
1. Listen to lots of music. Pay attention to the words (the lyrics).

2. Select any artist, any era, any style, any length, any message.

3. Select 3-5 of your favorite songs. Listen to the words carefully.

4. Be certain that the lyrics are not offensive to anyone's race, religion, or gender. Through discussion with your friends, determine exactly what the artist is attempting to say in the song.

5. Acquire copies of the lyrics to the two songs which are most meaningful to you. Remember to include bibliographical information and pay attention to any copyright statements.

6. Make at least two copies of these lyrics to use as rough and final draft material.

7. Bring the lyrics to class for your teacher to approve them. Be certain to include copyright information.

8. Decide which will be your primary song and which will be your back-up.

9. Be certain to have a CD or other copy of the first choice song to play during your presentation.

10. As your teacher goes through a discussion of each poetry term in class, mark examples in your chosen song lyrics of any 18 of the 40 terms which your teacher presents to you. Your teacher might require certain terms to be included, unless they really aren't present in your lyrics.

11. If, after discussing the problem with your instructor, you determine that your song does not contain 18 terms, then you may fill in the needed amount from your second choice song.

12. When you have marked them all on your rough draft, submit a clean final draft marked with your choices of examples to be checked.

13. Then you may begin constructing your presentation. You might use MS PowerPoint or any other presentation software, or you might make Web pages for this assignment. See the Checklist in the associated file for descriptions of the required slides.

14. Production dates (5 days in the lab) for the various slides will be scheduled by your teacher. In order to provide feedback, your classmates and your instructor will utilize the attached Checklist. (See Associated File)


1. Formatively assess students during the discussion of the terms and the poetry examples. Note students who are having difficulty and offer feedback and assistance whenever possible.

2. Formatively assess students' rough drafts as they are working to identify examples of the terms. Offer guidance but do not point out the specific examples found in the songs.

3. Once your formative assessment of students' final drafts of term identification within the songs indicates that they are ready for the summative, remind students that they will be summatively assessed on PowerPoint slides using the Checklist found in the associated file. As students present their PowerPoints (or later if stored on an intranet) assess students using the Checklist. Each student should receive a completed Checklist/summative assessment from the teacher on his/her presentation. NOTE: Presentation skills are not assessed in this lesson.

4. Performance levels should be set to match the students' ability levels and the teacher's proportional weighting of the experience. The students' presentations should reveal that they have acquired facility with the literary terms for poetry, and watching each other's presentations will reinforce their understanding of the terms through repetition. The teacher will be able to score the learning during the shows. If the students are required to save their shows to their accounts on an intranet, then the teacher will be able to peruse them at a later date for discrepancies without interrupting the flow of the shows during class. The students will then be able to add these presentations to the portfolios which they will build during their high school years.

5. This lesson assesses the following ISTE standards:
I.A...demonstrate introductory knowledge, skills, and understanding of concepts related to technology.
I.B...demonstrate continual growth in technology and skills to stay abreast of current and emerging technologies. developmentally appropriate learning opportunities that apply technology-enhanced instructional strategies to support the diverse needs of learners.
II.B...apply current research on teaching and learning with technology when planning learning environments and experiences.
II.E...plan strategies to manage student learning in a technology-enhanced environment.
III.A...facilitate technology-enhanced experiences that address content standards and student technology standards.
III.C...apply technology to develop students' higher order skills and creativity.
IV.A...apply technology in assessing student learning of subject matter using a variety of assessment techniques.
V.C...apply technology to increase productivity.

Circulate and formatively assess students as they use the technology tools. Provide assistance for students who are experiencing difficulty and monitor accordingly. (See Weblinks for additional information on ISTE NETS Standards)

Web Links

Web supplement for Poetry Sings
ISTE NETS Standards

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