No Series: Exploring Poetic Elements

Exploring Poetic Elements

Lesson Objective: Identify and analyze poetic elements
Grades 9-12 / ELA / Analysis


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How do the different parts of this lesson scaffold understanding?
  2. What makes the word wall activity an effective warm-up?
  3. How does identifying subjects and verbs help students make sense of the poem?


  • Private message to Rani Shanthi
My mail id is
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  • Private message to Rani Shanthi
Excellent lesson Jody. Can you apply the same principle on "Voice of the rain" by Walt Whitman
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  • Private message to Tonia Williams
Wonderful lesson Jody. Can someone send the lesson plan packet to
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  • Private message to Kara Gabriel
This was great, very interactive. Where did he locate the poetry packet. I would love to teach a lesson similar to this but would need the resource. Thanks for your time and feel free to email me at
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  • Private message to Abbey Gilmore
Love this. :) Thanks!
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  • [00:00]
    Interviewer: To be a successful member of a course, in this case, Language Arts, you have to be fluent

    Interviewer: To be a successful member of a course, in this case, Language Arts, you have to be fluent not only in nonfiction, but fiction literature and all sorts of terms and writing as well. So with what we’re doing today in this particular lesson, which would be indicative of probably a lot of courses where you’re asking students to listen to something, to consider something, to look at something and then break it down into it’s parts. There’s all sorts of fluency there.

    The first thing we have to do is—you all made your word wall last week, it’s over there. It’s hanging from that line. So what we want to do is match the terms with their appropriate definitions.

    I have a poetry word wall and a fiction word wall for the most common literary terms. They can be used over and over, and the students have a hand in creating it, which is just another way to meet the learning objective. Then we’ll be taking their knowledge of that term and its definition and trying to apply it to a poem.

    Our particular piece is by William Wordsworth, a famous English poet. This piece composed in 1806. Let’s break it up then into two stanzas. We have volunteers for those stanzas.

    Interviewee: The world is too much with us, late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.

    Interviewer: So the first thing I have them do is identify subjects and verbs and basically direct objects or who’s and what’s to determine actually what’s happening in the poem.

    So let’s read it like a story, and see if it makes sense this way. Mr. Tilly 01:42, would you like to read the parts that we’ve marked?

    Interviewee: The world is too much with us. We lay a waste our powers. We see nature that is ours. We have given our hearts away.

    Interviewer: Good. What is the author telling us?

    Interviewee: Comparing nature to life, and how it’s difficult.

    Interviewer: Okay. What is he saying we have done?

    Interviewee: Wasted.

    Interviewer: We have wasted them doing what? What comes before that in line two?

    Interviewee: Getting and spending.

    Interviewer: Getting and spending. What do you think if we took him down to the shopping mall?

    Interviewee: Get me out of this place.

    Interviewer: Yeah. I think we have a better understanding of the basic concept, so let’s move on. Here are the terms, in your table groups pick one with which you want to start or are comfortable, and write down the line number or the words that are an example of shift, imagery, illusion, metaphor, personification, rhyme scheme. I may ask this group to say, well what’s the illusion? And they’ll say this is the illusion, and I know it’s an illusion because.

    Let’s take about six minutes. Tell me, why would it be right or not right?

    Interviewee: He’s all sweet about it.

    Interviewer: He’s all sweet about it up here?

    Interviewee: Up here, and then down here he’s saying the nature is not as good—

    Interviewee: Well sweeter than that.

    Interviewer: Yeah, sweeter than that, so how many clues are there that’s the shift?

    Interviewee: The dash lines.

    Interviewer: Dash lines.

    Interviewee: Exclamation point.

    Interviewee: Emphasis.

    Interviewer: Exclamation point.

    Interviewee: Crying out the name.

    Interviewer: Crying out a name.

    Interviewee: The mood change.

    Interviewer: And a mood change, four clues. How many more do we need to say that’s the shift?

    Interviewee: None.

    Interviewer: So to be able to pick four, does that show mastery level knowing what shift is?

    Interviewee: Yeah.

    Interviewer: So did you pass that part of the test?

    Interviewee: Yes.

    Interviewer: And so this is imagery because you do what?

    Interviewee: Sight, you see.

    Interviewer: You use your eyes, okay, so you know it’s imagery because in the definition of imagery is?

    Interviewee: Senses.

    Interviewer: Five senses, and sight is one of those, perfect.

    As students wrap up the group work, I will ask each table group then to share with the whole group one example.

    Interviewee: I know that it moves us not great God, I’d rather be a pagan suckled in a [inaudible 03:52] because it gives emphasis on great God, he’s calling out to a God, and it has two little dash marks for the shift.

    Interviewer: Excellent. Can someone say it another way?

    Interviewee: I agree that it’s the shift because in the poem he goes from discussing how the world is to how he feels about the world.

    Interviewer: Perfect, so it’s another way to say it. Here’s the assignment. This then would be the test. You take one poetic element you discovered, write a paragraph that justifies assigning that poetic element to it.

    As students are working on their individual written response, I’m looking at sentences to see if word choice is strong, to see if sentences are joined correctly, to check for run-on sentences. So at the very end I ask for some volunteers to share.

    Interviewee: In W Wordsworth’s poem, The World is too Much with Us, the author uses personification with the line, now like sleeping flowers. I know this is personification because it applies a human quality to a non-human being. For example in a poem by Emily Dickenson one of the lines, death sets a thing significant. Death can’t set anything down or put anything anywhere because it’s not human. As death can’t set anything, a flower can’t sleep, therefore this line is personification.

    Interviewer: So not only does she use the poem, she uses another poem to justify it. So it’s like using another experience, very good.

    I think that by the end of the sophomore year that they’ve got the mastery of these terms. But I want to see that they can justify the use of the terms. It’s like layers, you know, a line can be way more than one thing, which is one thing that makes poetry so good, another thing that makes it so difficult to learn.

    [End of Audio]

School Details

Will Rogers High School
3909 East 5th Place
Tulsa OK 74112
Population: 692

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Jody Parsons


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