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Zen Poetry Lesson

Updated on June 2, 2013

Zen Poetry


CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.5 Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.2a Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.


TLW correctly use figurative and literal language in poems

TLW demonstrate how words and images are associated using evidence from the text


Students have been working on biographies and summaries. This will be a new topic.

Time: 2 Days


For their writing, students may use their senses to write a poem about nature as modeled on the board. If they don’t wish to use the model, they don’t have to, but can jump right in. The majority of students are ESL and so the senses model will help them broaden their use of English.

Classroom Behavior:

Whole Group: students are expected to sit at their desks quietly, paying attention to the teacher. If they have something to say, they must raise their hand and wait to be called on

Independent Work: noise level should be no higher than a whisper


Document camera

2 model poems "Thoughts" Zen Master Ryokan, "Seasons" Samantha Slosser

Copy paper

Lined paper

Students’ writing journals

Blue construction paper

Colored pencils

Black markers



  • Introduce Zen Poetry and what it’s about (nature).
  • Show first model poem and read it aloud.
  • Have students reflect.
  • Get background knowledge on poetry and give some.
  • Talk about poetry features in models.
  • Show own poem and finished product.
  • Explain that this is what they’ll get to do.
  • Have students write their own Zen poems in their writing journals.
  • Explain that they need to get it checked off by a teacher before illustrating.
  • After illustrating, they may take a black marker and copy their poem over the illustration.
  • They may then take a bit of glue and glue the finished product onto the construction paper ( or a teacher can do it for them).


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