Lesson: Mood in Poetry

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Lesson Objective

Students will determine the mood of various poems and explain their reasoning.

Lesson Plan

Connection (3-5 mins): Students should be seated on the carpet with a partner.  They will be expected to turn and talk to this partner throughout the lesson. n Over the past weeks we have learned how to discover the meaning of a poem.  We will begin a discussion today about the mood of a poem.  It is important to understand how a poet wanted us to feel as we were reading.  Without understanding the mood of a poem we cannot fully gather meaning from our reading.

Teach/Active Engagement (10-12 mins): Poets can create a mood in their poems, to make you feel a certain way when you read them.  A poem can have a happy, upbeat mood, or it can have a sad, slow mood, depending on the words the poet chooses to use.  Before we get started analyzing poetry moods, I want us to first discover what we envision when we think of certain moods.  Right now close your eyes and envision what it would look like or feel like to be in an excited and energized mood.  Turn and tell your partner what you imagined. 

Now close your eyes and visualize what a depressed or sad mood might look or feel like.  Turn and tell your partner what you imagined.  Great.   Now we all have an idea of what it feels like to be in a certain mood.  I want you to keep those ideas in your head as I read the poem on the chart paper aloud. 

One-Way Ticket
by Langston Hughes, 1949
I pick up my life
And take it with me
And I put it down in
Chicago, Detroit,
Buffalo, Scranton,
Any place that is
North and East—
And not Dixie.

I pick up my life
And take it on the train
To Los Angeles, Bakersfield,
Seattle, Oakland, Salt Lake,
Any place that is
North and West—
But not South.

I am fed up
With Jim Crow laws,
People who are cruel
And afraid.
Who lynch and run,
Who are scared of me
And me of them.

I pick up my life
And take it away
On a one-way ticket—
Gone up North,
Gone out West,

Langston Hughes is a poet that is capable of creating many different moods.  While I was reading this I noticed a lot of words that were repeated.  He uses the words “gone”, and “I pick up my life” repeatedly in this poem. This poem makes me feel like the speaker is determined to escape his life. How does this poem make you feel?  Turn and tell your partner.


Teacher calls on students to share out responses.  You all had great ideas for how this poem made you feel.  The great thing about poetry is that this poem may make you feel completely different than someone else.  As long as you can explain why you feel that way, it's okay.  Everytime we think about the mood of a poem we need to think about how the poem makes us feel and what emotions come up while we read.  Many of you said you felt powerful when reading this poem.  That is great because you were able to feel like you were moving your life away from all the danger of the Jim Cros laws and being afraid.  Each time we read a poem we must think about the mood and feelings we have in order to fully understand the poem. 


Today when you return to your seats, you will continue to read in your poetry packets.  Each time you read a poem stop and record the mood of the poem giving reasons for your answer. 


Independent Reading (15-20 mins): Students return to their seats.  During workshop time they will continue to read from their poetry packets.  While they are reading they should write a sentence at the end of each poem they read recording the mood that was created and why.  I place the sentence starter on chart paper for students to refer back to throughout workshop time ( The mood of this poem is _____ because ______). 

Exit Slip/Share (5-10 mins): Students complete a worksheet that requires them to read two short poems.  They will then determine the mood of those poems and explain their reasoning.  This exit slip will determine which students need more practice with the skill.

Reflection:  Mood is always a tested question in poetry.  I decided to include this lesson in the unit because it is so heavily tested.  However, it is difficult to teach mood especially with struggling readers.  I tried to pick fun and obvious mood poems to allow students to feel successful from the beginning. 

Lesson Resources

Mood Exit Slip  


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