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Lesson Plan

Creating Classroom Community by Crafting Themed Poetry Collections

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Creating Classroom Community by Crafting Themed Poetry Collections

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Twelve 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Students begin by brainstorming types of poetry, then examining themed poetry collections to find examples. They create a working definition of poetry that they will revisit throughout the unit. Next students reexamine the collections, identifying what the poems have in common, and generating a list of characteristics of thematic poetry collections. Students then begin work on their own poetry collection. In each session, they read, analyze, and write a different form of poetry, including diamante, cinquain, 5W, Bio, I Am, Name, Acrostic, Limerick, and Two-Voice poems. For some forms, they write about themselves and for others they interview and write about a classmate, but all the poems follow the theme of "getting to know each other." Throughout the process, students complete a checklist to organize and track what they learn about poetry forms and elements of poetry. Graphic organizers are included for each poetic form.

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Thematic Poetry Collections: This booklist recommends a number of themed poetry collections for use in this lesson.

Poetry Collection Checklist: Students can use this checklist to organize their definitions of different poetic forms and to cite examples.

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As Albert B. Somers explains in his Teaching Poetry in High School, "[W]riting poetry is expressive, much of it is easily based on models and patterns, and the process can be quick and painless and even fun. Let's face it: writing poems is not like writing essays" (129).

In this light, writing poetry can be not only an opportunity to students to engage in a fun writing experience, but they also have the chance to explore the form and structure that are typical of the genre of poetry. Writing poetry and learning about poetry need not be pigeonholed: students can write their own poetry and learn specific literary terms at the same time. The successful teacher, according to Somers, models the process, provides starting places, urges students to choose their own focus point, and, then, helps students polish, phrase, and format their poems (130-131).

In this lesson plan, students follow just this process, while also exploring the characteristics of the genre of poetry. They then use this knowledge as a way of creating a sense of community in the classroom, by interviewing others and introducing themselves with poetry as the vehicle.

Further Reading

Somers, Albert B. 1999. Teaching Poetry in High School. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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Dunning, Stephen, and William Stafford. 1992. "Found and Headline Poems." Getting the Knack: 20 Poetry Writing Exercises. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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