School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 2

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

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 3.0 Comprehension of Literary Text

Indicator 4. Use elements of poetry to facilitate understanding

Objective a. Identify the structure, shape, and form of a variety of poetic texts, including their lines and stanzas

Seed

Begin by discussing these questions with your students. “What is a poem? How is a poem different from a story?” Based on your students’ responses, review some of the structures of poetry that set it apart from prose and record on a chart like the one below.

Stories Poetry
Structural Elements
Ideas written in sentences
  • One sentence ends and the next begins, even if on the same line.
  • Print runs from margin to margin
Ideas written in lines
  • Lines are usually short
  • Each line of poetry begins on the next line
  • Creates more white space on a page
  • Sometimes create a shape
Several sentences about the same topic are organized into a paragraph
  • We indent a new paragraph
Several lines about the same topic are organized into a stanza
  • We break (skip a line) between stanzas
Can be short or long Can be short or long
Can be a book Can be a book
Punctuation and capital letters follow the normal rules Punctuation and capital letters can be used in different, creative ways
Can tell stories, express emotions, or create an image Can tell stories, express emotions, or create an image
May have rhyming words but most do not Many poems have rhyming words but some do not

Seed

Share a variety of poems, illustrating these structural elements with your students. For example, the following 2 line poem written by Joe Thompson could be presented. Prepare a copy of the poem so it can be displayed for the lesson. Read it aloud. Go back to the chart and discuss the structural elements by asking questions. How many lines? (2) How many stanzas? (2) Note how the lines do not go margin to margin. Note the inconsistencies in the use of standard conventions. Discuss the meaning and images that the words evoke.

How frogs eat

Mosquitos and flies are a frogs favorite dinner
But if I had his diet, I’m sure I’d be thinner.

© Joe Thompson • www.imaginesongs.com

Seed

Now examine a longer poem and discuss the structural features. Prepare a copy of the poem so it can be displayed for the lesson. Read it aloud. Go back to the chart and discuss the structural elements by asking questions. How many lines? (12) How many stanzas? (3) Identify the focus or topic of each stanza and discuss how this helps bring meaning to the poem as a whole. Again, discuss how the lines do not go margin to margin. This makes this text immediately recognizable as a poem. Discuss the inconsistencies in the use of standard conventions.

I’ve Been Eaten by an Alligator

I’ve been eaten by an alligator
Or a crocodile I guess.
My teacher told me the difference,
but now I must confess

that I wasn’t really listening;
my mind was far away.
I was thinking about the weekend
and the games that I would play.

So alligator or crocodile,
Though it doesn’t seem to matter:
Now that I’ve been eaten,
I know one of them is fatter.

© Joe Thompson • www.imaginesongs.com

Seed

An example of a free verse poem should also be introduced in this lesson so that students can see the structure of a poem when rhyming isn’t involved. All the small poems and fourteen more by Valerie Worth is a book of free verse poems that are appropriate for primary students because the topics are familiar. Below is an example of a poem from this text.

Sun
The sun
Is a leaping fire
Too hot
To go near,

But it will still
Lie down
In warm yellow squares
On the floor

Like a flat
Quilt, where
The cat can curl
And purr.

Use the same procedure utilized in the other poems to discuss this poem. Display and read the poem aloud. Go back to the chart and discuss the structural elements by asking questions. How many lines? (12) How many stanzas? (3) Identify the focus or topic of each stanza and discuss how this helps bring meaning to the poem as a whole. Discuss the fact that this poem doesn’t have any rhyming words. Again, discuss how the lines do not go margin to margin. Talk about the meaning of each of the stanzas and how they are related to each other (see objective b for more help with this). This makes this text immediately recognizable as a poem. Discuss the inconsistencies in the use of standard conventions.

Seed

As follow-up have students start a poetry notebook. This could be a composition book or folder. Make poems that are discussed in class available for students to copy or paste into their notebooks. Have students label the structural elements as discussed in class. Provide poetry anthologies at your writing center or create a poetry center and have students continue to read and collect poetry in their poetry notebooks.

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