Lesson: Meaning of Poetry

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Lesson Objective

Students will find the main idea of a poem.

Lesson Plan

Connection (3-5 mins): Readers, I know we spent a lot of time thinking about the main idea or most important idea in fiction and non-fiction texts.  Today, we will use that same thinking to talk about poetry.  Poetry can sometimes be difficult to understand because authors use figurative language and imagery much more than in other types of writing.  It is our job as readers to think deeply about the poem and create meaning to determine the main idea of the poem.  We will practice this with one of my favorite poems today.


Teach (10-12 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.  To really understand the meaning of a poem sometimes we have to read small pieces of the poem then stop and think or re-read the poem several times.  Today, we will read a funny poem by Kenn Nesbitt titled, The Dragon on the Playground.  Teacher places poem on the overhead.


Teacher reads aloud the first stanza.  Wow! That is pretty interesting.  A dragon is on their play ground.  Already, I’m thinking this poem is probably meant to entertain because I don’t think it’s realistic that a dragon would come visit our play ground.   Would you be surprised if a dragon came down to recess?


Teacher reads aloud second and third stanza.  What is happening in these stanzas?  What is important for us to understand as readers?  Turn and tell your partner what you are thinking.  Students turn and talk as teacher listens in to conversations.  Teacher calls on students to share out their ideas.  This is a very interesting poem.  The dragon is destroying the whole playground.  I would be really upset if that happened at our school. Let’s keep reading to find out what happens.


Teacher reads aloud the next two stanzas.  It seems like the dragon is going to destroy everything and now he is heading towards their class.  How do you think the students are feeling?  Turn and tell your partner.  Students turn and talk.  Teacher calls on students to share their thinking. 


Teacher reads aloud the last stanza of the poem.  Oh no! The teacher is going to keep the dragon?  Let’s think about this poem.  What is the main idea or what would you share with someone who was thinking about reading this poem?  Turn and tell your partner.  Students turn and talk.  Teacher has students share out responses.  This was such a fun poem to read and think about with you all.  When you return to your seat today you will be able to pick from many different poetry books to read a poem.  As you read a poem think about what the poem is about or what you would share with someone else.  Write those thoughts on a post-it note so you are ready to share out at the end of workshop time.


Active Engagement (15-20 mins): Students should return to their seats to complete work independently.  Teacher should circulate during this time or conference with groups of students. During workshop time today, students will read several poems.  I pull many poetry books from my classroom library and place them on students’ tables.  They should read with a partner or independently during this time.  Students will also be given post-it notes to write the meaning of each poem they read.  At the end of workshop time each student will be asked to share about a poem they read.



Exit Slip/Share (3-5 mins): This is a really fun time to share out learning.  Each student should have at least one post-it note to share with the class.  Although this is time consuming it holds each student accountable for what they read.  Students should share what the poem was about and the main idea of the poem.  It was fun to see the different poems students chose to share.  This can be used as an informal assessment to determine which students were able to make meaning of a poem.


Reflection: I love this lesson, mainly because I love reading poetry with my students, but also because it allows students a choice in what they read and share.  Rather than assigning a worksheet where students have to read one poem and write the main idea, I gave students the freedom to select a poem from a book and write about it.  They were much more invested in the activity and were excited to share about the poems they read.  I will use this format in the future for other poetry lessons because it was so successful.

Lesson Resources

The Dragon on the Playground.doc  


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