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Lesson Plan

Poetry Circles: Generative Writing Loops Help Students Craft Verse

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Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Linda L. Young

Plattsburgh, New York


International Literacy Association



From Theory to Practice



In this lesson, students interact and play with language while writing poetry using generative writing loops, which are a type of poetry circle. In these groups, students interact to learn and apply poetic conventions and forms, and this interaction results in improved understanding and development of social skills. While generative writing loops can be used to write any kind of poem, this lesson focuses on a free verse poem and an Italian sonnet. The student groups can be used throughout the year to stimulate interest in poetry and to help students actively learn poetic terms, conventions, and traditional forms.

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Daniels, H. (2002). Literature circles: Voice and choice in the student-centered classroom. Portland. ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

Literature circles are "linked to improving student achievement scores." The benefits of these groups, which include empowering students by offering them choice and diversity, can also be gleaned from generative writing loops.


Daniels, H. (1998). Methods that matter, six structures for best practice classrooms. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

As Daniels says, peer-oriented learning helps students access "existing frameworks," which helps them to gain knowledge; it also connects readily and well to existing classroom practices.


Joas, H. (1997). The creativity of action. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

All creativity is rooted in action; action itself is a result of creativity. This lesson helps students to:

  • Use creativity to bring poetry into action

  • Craft poems as a means of scaffolding

  • Foster knowledge of poetic conventions and traditional forms

  • Access their power as creators and theory makers

  • Express themselves creatively and strengthen written expression skills

  • Engage as a social learning group with a common goal-learn to negotiate, create, and synthesize information as a group


Young, L. (2007). Portals into poetry: Using generative writing groups to facilitate student engagement with word art. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 51, 5055.

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