Students Analyze Poems If I Must Die and Spring Pools for Rhyme Scheme and Figurative Language

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SWBAT identify, respond to and analyze the effects of form and figurative language as it applies to a sonnet by reading poems and filling out poetry response form.

Big Idea


10 minutes


I begin this activator by explaining that curiosity is a useful attitude, especially when it’s free of preconceived ideas about what poetry is or should be.  I explain that most readers make false assumptions about an unfamiliar poem and that the title may give you some image or association to start with but may also be deceiving as to the poems theme.  

Next I tell my students that I modified the TP-CASTT poem analysis organizer by eliminating all questions except the first which is predicting what the poem is about after reading its title and the last question which is explaining the poems theme after reading the poem.

I give them the modified TP-CASTT with five short teen themed poems that I cut and pasted into the modified TP-CASTT asking them to predict the theme from the title and then write the theme after the poem is read.  They are given the option of working with a partner or working individually.  I use teen themed poetry for immediate engagement and familiarity with the poem's message.

After they have completed the activity I select a few students to share their written comments with class.

Building Knowledge

20 minutes
  • Teacher reviews and teaches rhyme scheme, sonnet.  Students take notes and answer questions posed on power point.

Student Learning Activity

35 minutes
  • Students write rhyme scheme of 3 poems including Robert Frost’s Spring Pools
  • Distribute a copy of Claude McKay’s “If We Must Die” and ask if this poem is a sonnet and if so why?
  • Teacher reads poem out loud while students read silently.  Students are asked to identify rhyme scheme of the first 8 lines in stanza and after a brief discussion complete poems rhyme scheme.
  • Discuss couplet at end of sonnet
  • Pass out TP-CASST and students work in pairs or individually to complete questions.
  • CFU: Teacher will circulate among students checking for understanding and facilitating engagement in the task. 

Wrap Up

10 minutes

Ticket to Leave:

  • What is a Sonnet and Rhyme Scheme?