Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Poetry Voices

Jay Babcock
Colleges and Universities - Florida


Students discover, read, write about and perform pieces of poetry individually or in small groups. This is not an introduction to poetry, but rather an extension activity of the performance aspect of poetry.


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.


-Poetry anthologies
-Poetry Analyzation Rubric (See Associated File)
-Student response journals


1. Select several poetry anthologies appropriate for the grade level.
2. Rehearse a favorite poem to use as a demonstration.
3. Download and copy the rubric for each student. (See Associated File)
4. Make sure students have response journals.


1. Begin by performing one of your favorite poems for the class, then giving a brief explanation of why you like it. (What emotions does the poem inspire and/or ignite in you?) Next, tell the students that over the next several days, they will be selecting poems to perform for the class and then responding to one that has been chosen by you.

2. Have students search through multiple sources of poetry to find one that strikes them in a profound way. Encourage students to select one that is meaningful in the affective domain and does not simply appeal to the sense of humor. This search takes place over two days. No one is allowed to select a poem the first day; they must continue reading to get a broader perspective. Reading over a two-day period allows students to broaden their range of choices.

3. Students copy their selected poems and have the weekend to practice performing. Stress to students that the point is not to memorize the words, but to concentrate on the delivery. Remind them that they selected the poem because in some way it inspired them to share emotions; it is those emotions that they want to convey to their audience as they perform the poem.

4. Move to a new room, or change the furniture in the classroom to produce a new environment. Students individually perform their poems in a very casual atmosphere. Remember: The poem does NOT need to be memorized; in fact, it should be read from a note card. Discussions are welcomed and the teacher may need to help start them.

5. After students have read their poems, start a discussion about 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, repetition, and alliteration. (Note: A list of literary devices is included in the rubric. You may need to write these terms on the board along with brief definitions.) This discussion can be done with any age group, either as an introduction or review of the terms. Students then analyze their chosen poems for these literary techniques and discuss the poems.

6. After poem analysis and discussion, students make entries in their response journals about the entire experience--not only finding a poem that fits them, but hearing the poems their classmates selected. Encourage students to use the rubric as their guide for their journal writing since this is how their assessment writing (See Assessments) will be scored. Respond to the students' journal writing before giving the assessment assignment. Give plenty of feedback and be specific.


The assessment will be to analyze an assigned poem and report in essay form. I would suggest either “Sick” by Shel Silverstein, “Earth's Answer” by William Blake, or “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. These selections give a range of difficulties, or you could select one that would be more appropriate for your classroom.

The Poetry Analyzation Rubric (See Associated File) details criteria for the essay in the areas of Mass Appeal, Personal Interest, Literary Devices and the Sharing of Emotion. Students' essays are scored based on a total of 60 points.


1. Poems can be performed in other places for other audiences.
2. A publishing workshop can be conducted to create an anthology of the students' favorite poems alongside ones they have written.
3. This activity can also lead into author talks on popular poets or conducting workshops on poets.
4. Ralph Fletcher's books such as [I Am Wings: Poems about Love] ©1994, [Relatively Speaking: Poems about Family] ©1999, and [Have You Been to the Beach Lately?] ©2001 are great resources for both teacher and student.

Attached Files

This file contains the Poetry Analyzation Rubric.     File Extension: pdf

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