Beacon Lesson Plan Library

I Just Want to Say

Dawn Capes
Bay District Schools


I just want to say- I love you, I hate you, things haven't been easy for me, and much more. Through the use of poetry, people can relay a powerful message. Students study poetic devices included in conversation poems and explore their eloquent messages.


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

The student analyzes and describes the use of symbolism and figurative language in fiction or nonfiction.

The student knows ways effective word choice, uses of dialect and sensory or figurative language contribute to the mood or meaning of a poem.

The student understands the impact on the reader of specific word choices (for example,, multiple meanings, invented words, concrete or abstract terms, figurative language).

The student describes how line length, punctuation, and rhythm contribute to the overall effect of a poem.


-Printed copies of the poems, “Mother To Son” by Langston Hughes, “The Lesson of the Moth” by Don Marquis (See Teacher Prep.)
-Transparencies of the poems
-Copies of the poems for students (See Teacher Prep)
-Copies of the student handouts The Lesson of the Moth, Mother to Son and I Just Want To Say (See Associated File)
-Classroom Management Tool, Who’s Got the Answer (provided in Lesson Two, The Inside Story): Optional
-Student poetry folders


1. The poems necessary for the unit will need to be downloaded from the Internet.
2. It is permissible by copyright law to copy these poems for student use as long as poems are destroyed at unit’s end. However, many of these poems should be available in student literature books. Please check. If they are, then have students bring literature books to class each day of the unit.
3. Make transparencies of the poems.
4. Make copies of the student handouts The Lesson of the Moth, Mother to Son and I Just Want To Say (See Weblinks).
5. Decide if you would like to use the Classroom Management Tool for Questioning entitled Who’s Got the Answer. This can be used to ensure that more masterful students don’t dominate the question/answer periods and that all students get an opportunity to show what they know. Created in Lesson Two, The Inside Story.
6. Be prepared to pass back student work from the handout, Personification and Recap. Done in Lesson Four, Personify This.
7. Be prepared to formatively assess today’s handouts and return the following day.


Day six of the unit, I’m a Poet and Didn’t Know It!

Note: There are many opportunities for questioning and answering in this lesson that can in turn be used as a formative assessment opportunity. Note those students who have grasped the concept and ask higher order questions of them. Note those students who are having a hard time with the concept and continue questioning them. Attempt to question everyone at least once during the daily discussions. You may want to use the Classroom Management tool, Who’s Got the Answer.

Note: Throughout the course of this unit, students will be asked their interpretation of various poems. Be careful in your responses to students. The answers suggested in this unit are merely the lesson developers’ explanations of the poems. Responses by students may be different, yet still correct. Be open to students’ interpretations. Exploration and student responses will not occur the teacher tells students, "No, that’s not the right answer."

As students enter the room, have them get their poetry folders.

1. First ask who brought in poems to share. Share one. Then, reflect on the key question again by asking, “Is this good poetry?” After students have had an opportunity to quickly discuss, place poetry example on the bulletin board.
2. Pass back student work from the handout, Personify This\Practice and Recap.
3. Review: Display the transparency of “The Sea Lullaby” by Elinor Wylie.
a. What is this poem about? (The sea is a living creature that has drowned a little boy.)
b. What kind of images do they get about the sea? (Answers will vary.)
c. Where are there examples of personification? Have students find one. (Throughout the poem there are examples of personification: a treacherous smiler, a savage beguiler, she choked him and beat him, her bright locks, she shouted for joy, one had she strangled, she lingers, long fingers)
d. How does the use of personification creates a mood in the poem? (Answers will vary, but students should suggest that the mood is very dramatic and slightly savage.) What words did the author use to suggest the mood?
e. How does the personification impact the reader? By using personification, the writer makes the reader see and hear the sea. With the type of words the writer used, the sea seems savage and bloodthirsty and the opposite of the calm, cool ocean we may have seen before.
4. Display the poem “Mother To Son” by Langston Hughes. Pass out student copies.
a. Have a student read the poem aloud.
b. Where do you normally find a crystal stair? (Fairy tale, palace, etc.) What might the author be suggesting by the use of a crystal stair? (Supporting the idea that life hasn’t been a fairy tale for the mother. There is an aspect of reality added to it.)
c. Ask students what is the poem about? (A mother is explaining how life has been hard for her, but she hasn’t given up.)
d. What does the mother want the son to do? (Not give up. To keep trying no matter how hard things might be.)
5. Display the poem “The lesson of the moth” by Don Marquis. Pass out student copies.
a. Have a student read the poem aloud.
b. Discuss the meaning of immolated. (Immolate- to kill oneself by fire.)
c. Ask students what is the poem about? (A person is having a conversation with a moth who is trying to kill itself on a light bulb.)
d. What happens to the moth at the end? (It succeeds in killing itself on a cigar lighter.)
e. Asks students if they agree with the moth’s sentiments that, “it is better to be happy/for a moment/ and burned up with beauty/than to live a long time/and be bored all the while.” (Answers will vary.)
f. Ask students to look at the last lines “I do not agree…to fry himself.” What does it mean? Do they agree? (Answers will vary.)
6. Divide the class in half and have students partner or assign them partners. One half the room will use the poem “Mother to Son.” The other half of the room will use “The lesson of the moth.” Explain that students will have 10 minutes to complete this activity. They will be finding poetic devices in each poem. Use the handout, The Lesson of the Moth and Mother to Son. Students should get both handouts even though they will only be studying one poem. They will write group answers on the other.
7. As students are working, walk around the room formatively assessing which students seem to be struggling with the concept and give assistance as needed.
8. Once students have had about 10 minutes to work, have students share their work, come to consensus on answers and take notes.
9. Ask if the poems today were examples of good poetry. Ask students to explain which ones were and why. Ask: Is there anything we need to add to What Makes Good Poetry?
10. Finally, give students copies of the handout I Just Want To Say. Allow class time to complete or assign for homework.
11. Have students turn in their particular handout on which they answered questions (Mother to Son or The Lesson of the Moth), and I just Want to Say for formative assessment. See Assessment section. Note: Recaps are opportunities to individually assess student understanding of the concepts. Pay close attention to these and note students who appear to be struggling. These students will need additional assistance, questioning, etc. in the following days.
12. Place all handouts, returned work into the student poetry folders and return to secure place.


Assess worksheets using the answer key.

I Just Want To Say:
Students should be able to demonstrate that they can use powerful and descriptive words to create feeling and meaning in the poem. They should also be able to create at least one metaphor or simile to help describe what they are feeling.


1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

2. You may wish to use different discussion models than whole group, which is used in this lesson. Use the Just Read Now site (link available in Weblinks) to help you decide which discussion models would be right for your students.

3. If students are ready to write at different times than other students, allow for some flexibility so they do not become frustrated when they have a good writing idea.

4. If time is an issue, some of the work may be assigned as homework. Bear in mind that homework will need to be assessed quickly for feedback purposes.

5. Using a Word Wall may help students remember some of the complex vocabulary used within the unit. Simply use a blank section of the wall to post vocabulary words or other troublesome words written on construction paper. Remove words prior to the summative assessment.

Web Links

Poem: Mother to Son by Langston Hughes
From Mother to Son by Langston Hughes

Web supplement for I Just Want to Say
The Lesson of the Moth by Don Marquis

Use this link to obtain the classroom management tool, Who's Got The Answer?
Lesson Two, The Inside Story

Use this link to discover more information about Think-Pair-Share and other discussion strategies.
Discussion Strategies

Attached Files

Handouts for I Just Want To Say     File Extension: pdf

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