Poetry Takes Shape!

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SWBAT describe how words and phrases (repeated words, rhythm, rhyme) supply meaning in a poem and use digital tools to produce and publish poetry.

Big Idea

Pick a topic, make a shape, write a poem!



** I chose this book because it has really great poems that have wonderful shapes. I wanted the kids to see lots of examples of shape poems and it has some unique examples. I also wanted them to see other examples, so I used a powerpoint with pages from the book, one from the website, and a word program to create some 'word art' that can make shape poems. This lets the kids use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing in collaboration in peers.

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.


Common starting point

  • "Today we are going to talk about a kind of poetry that take shape."
  • "This kind of poem is called a 'shape' poem. Sometimes they are also called 'theme poems' because the shape shows the theme of the poem."  (Write that on the trunk of the tree)  
  • "We read these poems because they help show our feelings." (Write that on leaves of the tree) This is what the completed tree looked like.
  • "Let's take a look at some shape poems." Show the first 2 powerpoint slides.


Take time to let the kids look over some poems - you can show them a few from the book too. Poetry is meant to be looked at for beauty as well as read for enjoyment. I showed the first powerpoint slide and let the kids take a moment to look over the shapes. I was concerned less about reading the words than just talking about the shapes and how the author used them to add meaning.

This is one of the lessons in my middle of my poetry unit. I used the 'poetry tree' in all of my lessons in this unit to create a tool that pulled together all of the ideas and kinds of poetry. The kinds of poem are listed down the trunk and the ways that poetry help us are listed on the leaves. I discussed repetition, rhyming and repeated words in my other lessons, including Poetry: What Is It?Reading Acrostic:The Poetry of LettersSynonym Adjective Verb-Put Them In A Cinquain , Pieces of Meaning in Free Verse Poetry and Don't Worry: Alliteration and Onomatopoeia Help Us.

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

  • "Today we are going to look at poems that 'take shape'. They show the topic and author's purpose in a shape."
  • "Take a look at look at the examples - what do you notice?" (Slides 3-5)  Let the kids share that the shape shows what the poem is about.... the shapes can show the theme.
  • "Do you notice the rhythm? Rhyming? Repeated words? These poems usually have a good rhythm when they're read, but don't always have rhyme or repeated words."
  • Here's a video of what our discussion about the shape poems sounded like.


Introduce strategy - teacher models

  • "Let me read the first poem to you from the book." (Write the title on the board). "I will think about how it makes me feel and how the words and illustrations give it meaning."
  • Read the poem (about the Dachshund) with rhythm.
  • "The authors uses shape to show the leash and the dog. Some of the words shoot up. It has rhythm and rhyme, but not repeating words. It makes me feel silly."  (Write these ideas on the whiteboard to mimic the worksheet.)
  • Here's how I reviewed the model on the whiteboard.


Practice strategy - guided practice


Take the time to model how to read a poem with rhythm, rhyme and pausing/intonation. The Common Core Standards encourage students to learn how to describe how words and phrases, such as these, supply meaning to a poem. (RL.2.4) Although they often appreciate poetry for the unique voice, rhyme and rhythm, the ability to verbally describe how these add meaning is something that will need to be taught and practiced. This is your chance to model how to express these ideas.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Assign Task

  • "Let me page through the rest of the shape poems in this book - there are some great ones!"
  • "Now it's your turn to pick 2 of your favorites. I'll pass around the book - take a quick picture of your one of you favorite poems and then use that picture to answer the questions on the worksheet." 


Let Students Work

  • Pass out the worksheets to the students. They can pick 2 poems (take 2 pictures with the iPads) and fill out the worksheet.
  • This is one of my student's completed worksheets.
  • As kids work, walk around and ask questions and discuss their ideas. Here's one of our discussions about a poem.
  • I also like to do formative assessments - ask kids about their ideas and to explain their answers. "Why did you put down that feeling?" or "Show me where the author uses shape in their poems."  This is an example of a student explaining his ideas.


Using poetry with a focus on the text, along with the rhythm and rhyme of the genre, helps students see that the text of the poem is just as important.  Asking students to explain their ideas and where their answers came from in the text and illustrations leads them to understand that they need text evidence to back up their answers and ideas.

I did not take the time to read all of the poems in the book. My expectation was that the kids get the idea of how to read poetry, emphasizing rhythm, rhyme, pausing, and intonation and then explore the poems themselves by applying these to poems of their choice. Since we were sharing a book, I let them take a quick picture with the iPad so they could start thinking about their poem.

Write One Yourself

15 minutes

Explain the Task

  • I really wanted the kids to use the simplified wording in this poem with a digital tool. 
  • "Today we'll use a website that makes shape poems for you."
  • "Enter your name and then take a look at the topics. Choose one of interest and enter some words that are related to the topic. Then choose the title and retype the words in the text box. When you're done save it and I'll print them later."
  • Here's how I explained about 


Students Work


As students begin to write poetry, they are using digital tools to produce and publish writing. (W.2.6) Students love the technology, but need guidance to produce quality pieces in a focused manner. I like this website because it allows the kids to type a limited number of words (my kids don't type well so they can't produce long pieces). It has a good number of choices of the shapes and helped them produce a nice shape poem that they could share with the class.

Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

Students with language challenges may need help with the poems. Here's what it looked like when I was reading the poem to a student due to the higher vocabulary and language level.  They may also need to work with a friend on the computer, depending on their spelling ability.

Those with higher level language should be able to use more challenging wording on the poem. Suggest that they go beyond 'flower' (for the spring poem) to 'bud' or 'sprout' and use more phrases to create more a story instead of a list.