Lesson: Meaning of Poetry

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to determine the meaning of a poem by analyzing an author's word choice and respond in writing.

Lesson Plan

Connection (3-5 mins):  Readers we are becoming poetry experts.  I am proud of all the work you have done over the past weeks.  However, we have not focused on the most meaningful part of poetry yet; the meaning or message of the poem.  Poets write with a purpose, just like in our informational text unit.  It is our job as readers to determine the poets meaning behind their poetry.  We will practice finding the meaning of poetry today during workshop time.

Teach/Active Engagement (10-12 mins): Today we will try to determine the meaning of the poem, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.  We will have to think closely about what the author is saying and the words he is using to uncover the meaning of this famous poem. 

Teacher reads aloud the first stanza.  The first two lines of this poem are very meaningful.  When Frost says, “two roads diverged”, he means they went different ways.  I can almost picture in my mind two roads going different ways in the middle of the woods.  I imagine it must be fall because the woods are yellow, like the leaves are changing colors.  The speaker refers to himself as a traveler who is looking down one of the roads. Did you notice how I talked through each line to make sure I understood and could visualize what the author was trying to show me as a reader. 

Teacher reads aloud second stanza.  Turn and tell your partner what you think the author is trying to explain in this stanza.  Remember try to break the poem down line by line.  It is important to understand each part of the poem.  Students should turn and discuss.  Teacher listens in on partnerships to determine words students are struggling with, or ideas they are missing.  Teacher calls on partnerships to share out their responses. 

Teacher helps talk through student ideas based on student responses.  Students should come to the conclusion that the traveler decided to take the other path because it had not been traveled on very often due to it being grassy.  Great job readers, we had a lot of great conversations and it takes a lot of hard work to discover the meaning of a poem. 

Let’s try again with the third stanza.  Teacher reads aloud third stanza. Turn and tell your partner what you think this stanza is about.  Teacher helps facilitate class conversation by asking leading questions.  What do you think the author means by, taking the road less traveled has made all the difference?  Students respond to question and help to form their own opinions about the poem. 

You all did a great job today uncovering the meaning of a poem.  This poem is very difficult to understand and it takes great readers to discover the meaning.  Today when you return to your seats you will be asked to find the meaning of  a poem by yourself.  I will allow you to choose any poem from your packet, as long as you write in complete sentences and explain your reasoning just like we did during the lesson.  Off you go!

Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken":

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth.

    Then took the other, as just as fair,
    And having perhaps the better claim,
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
    Though as for that the passing there
    Had worn them really about the same.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

Independent Reading (15-20 mins): Students should return to their seats for workshop time.  This time should be spent reading independently from their poetry packets.  I suggest to students that they read at least five poems before selecting a poem to use for their exit slip.  Students should use the strategies learned during the lesson and format to write their own responses to the meaning of poetry.  This will be collected at the end of workshop time and used as an exit slip.

Exit Slip/Share (3-5 mins):  Students should complete the meaning of poetry worksheet for one poem in their packet.  This should be collected at the end of workshop time for the teacher to determine which students need more help with the skill.

Reflection: I allow students to choose which poem they use for their exit slip.  I find this choice allows students to feel more successful with the skill.  However, it does become more difficult to assess.  In using this lesson again, I would assign a specific poem from the packet to be used for the exit slip. 

Lesson Resources

Meaning of Poetry worksheet   Activity


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