Writing Poems That Appeal to Your Senses

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SWBAT analyze how sensory details in poetry add meaning for a reader and apply that understanding by creating a sensory poem of their own that conveys meaning.

Big Idea

We've saved the best lesson for last. Students write sensory poems that are incredibly fun to manipulate.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

For this lesson I again gained inspiration from poet Ken Nesbitt.  His lesson here for writing sensory poetry is fantastic.  My lesson is slightly different from his.  I wanted students to be able to interact and manipulate their words, so I came up with the idea of using sentence strips.

Have you ever heard a song, or smelled a particular scent and are immediately transported back to a certain memory in your past?  That's what this lesson is all about.  Evoking memories, feelings, and meaning by using those sensory words.

At it's heart, standard RL1.4 is about reading poetry, not necessarily writing it.  However, I know that students who write poetry have a better understanding when they read poetry.  Current reading research shows that writing is a strong indicator of success in reading comprehension.  When my students write poetry, they are the author, making decisions about which literary devices to use in order to convey a certain feeling to their reader.  Once students have been given that concrete opportunity to write, they can apply these ideas to their reading.  They have internalized the concept of what the author's purpose is, and why they have made certain decisions when choosing different literary devices when writing a certain piece.  This is why we are spending reading time diving into using these literary devices in our own writing.

For today's lesson you will need either the Smartboard Poetry Unit.notebook or Activboard Poetry Unit.flipchart lesson.  Each student will need 5 sentence strips (usually they are 24 inches long.  I cut them at the 12 inch mark).  Students will also need blank paper to write their poems on.

Reading Examples of Sensory Poems

10 minutes

I turned to slide 47 on the Smartboard lesson.  I said, "Today we are going to be writing poems that talk about our senses.  When we write poems that utilize our senses we can create strong feelings in our readers.  Let's look at some examples now."

I read the examples on slides 48-56 of the Smartboard lesson.  We talked about which sense the author used in each poem and how that made us feel when we read each poem. Once my students had seen some examples it was time for us to begin writing poems of our own.

Modeling and Writing Our Poems On Sentence Strips

15 minutes

I actually turned off my Activboard and modeled my poem for my students the "old fashioned way."  I taped my 5 sentence strips on to the board.  I said, "I am going to write a poem now that utilizes all 5 of my senses.  Watch how I do this."

I wrote:

     I see beautiful purple flowers.

     I hear birds chattering in the trees.

     I taste gooey, chocolate cake.

     I feel a soft, fuzzy, teddy bear. 

     I smell warm, baking bread.

I left my model on the board so my students could copy the first two sensory words from each line.  I said, "You can't use my ideas, but you can copy the first two words on each line.  Now its your turn to write your own sensory poem on your sentence strips."  I gave my students 10 minutes to write their poems.

You can see my students in action here Writing Our Sensory Poems On Sentence Strips.mp4.

Manipulating Our Sentence Strips

10 minutes

Once students were done writing their poems, I said, "Now I'm going to make my poem really interesting.  Watch what I do to my poem."  I cut off the first two words from each line.  Then I manipulated my poem around, making it interesting and a little silly at the same time.  I wanted my students to see that poetry can bend the rules and that we can have fun with language.

My poem ended up looking like this:

I see gooey chocolate cake.

I hear a soft, fuzzy, teddy bear.

I taste beautiful purple flowers.

I feel warm, baking bread.

I smell birds chattering in the trees.

My students were watching and absolutely loved watching me manipulate my sentence strips around  until I got it exactly the way I wanted it.  They were chomping at the bit to get started so I let them start working.  You can see my students in action here Manipulating Our Sentence Strips.mp4

Writing Our Sensory Poems

15 minutes

Once students were done manipulating their sentence strips and their poem was exactly the way they wanted it, I passed out blank paper and let them transfer their poems from their sentence strips to their final product on their papers.  My students wanted to include an illustration to go with their poems so I let them illustrate as well.  I let my students take about 10- 15 minutes or so to work.   You can see this portion of the lesson here: Writing Our Sensory Poems.mp4.

Our Closure

10 minutes

My students thought their poems were hilarious and couldn't wait to share.  So we did our usual closure by having those students who wanted to share their poems with the class do so.  We came to the carpet and the students who wanted to share took turns reading their poems.  The class was engaged as they listened to others.  I think my students did a great job with writing these poems.

You can see my thoughts and some student work samples here: Student Work Sensory Poems.mp4.