School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 2

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 3.0 Comprehension of Literary Text

Indicator 4. Use elements of poetry to facilitate understanding


To show proficiency of the skills stated in this indicator, a reader will demonstrate an understanding of the elements of poetry and how they work together to bring meaning to the reader. In order to identify poetry as a literary form and be able to distinguish a particular poem from other types of literature, a reader must identify and use a poem’s structural features. Poems look different from stories and articles. They have breaks in places that continuous text does not. There is more white space on a page of poetry than a story or article. Poems can tell stories, express emotions, or create an image. Poems can be very short or very long. Many poems rhyme but some do not. Knowing the structure of a poem helps a reader determine a purpose for the poem and comprehend it in literal and abstract ways.

Structural Features

A line is a single line of poetry.

A stanza is two or more lines of poetry separated by space that tell about a related idea or topic.

Types of Poems

A narrative poem tells a story in verse.

A shape poem has the form of its subject. For example a poem about a tree is shaped like a tree.

To understand a poem fully a reader should focus on the meaning/s of each word within that poem that will lead to an understanding of individual lines and continue to understanding of an entire stanza. Poets choose their words with purpose and care. Knowing the denotation of a word is an important first step, but knowing connotations of a word is critical to a reader of poetry so they can understand the nuances of the poet’s word choice. Early readers start to understand that often an object or person in a poem symbolizes a much bigger quality or idea.

Because poetry is meant to be read or spoken aloud, the sound of the words is a critical piece of understanding. Listening to the rhyming of words, the organization of the rhyming words, the repetition of sounds, the imitation of natural sounds, and the relationship among these sound devices and how they contribute to the meaning of a poem are all elements a critical reader must explore. Discovering the bond between the sound and sense of a poem assists a reader with comprehension.

A rhyme is a repetition of sounds at the end of words.

A poem’s rhythm is created by the organization of sound from the placement of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry. The difference between stressed and unstressed syllable concerns the degree of emphasis when words are spoken.

A poet may use a sound device to emphasize a particular idea, create a melodious sound to foster a pleasant mood, or put together a series of harsh sounds to establish an angry tone. When a critical reader can determine a purpose for the poet’s use of sound devices, a reader has constructed meaning from a poem.