How Can We Show Elementary School Students How to Look at a Poem.

Let's face it. Teaching poetry to your students is not always easy. The over-analyzing of this particular literary form can leave students--and teachers--confused and comatose. Teaching students how to read a poem doesn't have to be so painful. It can be simple and fun just by following the steps to this lesson.

Aim ( should be written on the board )

How can we decipher the details of a poem for its meaning?

Behavioral Objectives

1. The student will be able to interpret meaning from the poem.

2. The student will be able to pull meaning from the poem through its vocabulary words and its poetic style.

3. The student will be able to express his/her feelings and impressions on the poem.

4. The student will be able to appreciate the process of poetry.

Materials

1. Copies of the poem that you are studying.

2. Worksheet for homework.

3. List of pre-selected vocabulary words.

Motivation

Ask a student to read the aim on the board and ask him/her what it means. Ask the student what the word decipher means. Explain to the class that the aim of this lesson is to decipher meaning to the poem that is to be studied. Then, whatever the subject of the poem is, the students should be asked what they know about the particular subject that the poem is talking about.

Procedures

1. Read the poem to the class. Students should not have the poem in front of them just yet, but should simply sit with their eyes closed while they listen to the poem.

2. Then, give each student a copy of the poem. If the poem is in a book, tell the class to open the book to the page that's it's on.

3. Ask the students about the shape of the poem, and while they think that the author chose to shape the poem in the way that they did. Are the words of the poem shaped in a long, slender twist or in a conventional series of stanzas?

4. Write down vocabulary words that have been pre-selected by you on the blackboard, and tell the students that these words are from the poem. Go over each word by asking students what they think they mean, and then write their exact meanings right next to the words that are on the board.

5. Have students read a section of the poem aloud that contains one of the vocabulary words. Ask students how that vocabulary word fits in the stanza. Try to get the students to look at the other words that surround the vocabulary word. What is the poet trying to say? What images come up in their imagination?

Summary

Ask students to look at the aim on the board. Ask if the aim was met in this lesson. If the aim was met, how was it met. If the aim wasn't met, why wasn't it met.

Follow-up

For homework, hand out a worksheet that simply asks students to write down their personal reaction to the poem. This will be discussed the next day in class.

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