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Lesson Plan

Is a Sentence a Poem?

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Is a Sentence a Poem?

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time 50 minutes
Lesson Author

Haley Fishburn Moore

Hopkinsville, Kentucky


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Students are given a picture and asked individually to describe the picture in one sentence of less than twenty words. Afterward, the class analyzes syntax, imagery, and meaning in a chosen one-sentence poem by a canonical author to decide what makes it a poem. Students return to their own descriptive sentence to decide whether it is, is not, or could be a poem, justifying their reasoning. This exercise encourages students to dissect an established poem while defining the characteristics of the genre of poetry. Students then apply their knowledge during reflection upon their own work.

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Interactive Venn Diagram: Students use this online tool to compare and contrast the details of two books, to organize ideas for a compare and contrast essay, and a variety of other compare and contrast activities.

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As Albert B. Somers explains that "[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 fact it: writing poems is not like writing essays." (129).

This lesson demonstrates that writing poetry can be not only an opportunity for students to engage in a fun writing experience, but the opportunity 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).

Further Reading

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

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