School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 3

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 b. Identify and explain the meaning of words, lines, and stanzas


This activity requires students to have prior knowledge of the multiple meanings of words. The teacher will select at least four different poems which contain a word or words with multiple meanings which is important to the understanding of the poem. The teacher will create a chart for each multiple meaning word placing the word at the top of the chart and dividing the remainder of the chart into four squares. The charts should be placed in various areas of the classroom. The class should be divided into the number of small groups which will allow one group to each chart. The group members for each chart will draw a picture depicting a different meaning for that chart's word. After the pictures are complete, a student or teacher should read aloud the poem from which that word comes. Then students need to decide which picture accurately shows the meaning of the word as it is used in the poem. Continue with this activity until all words' meanings have been decided.


To prepare for this activity, the teacher will organize a four square graphic organizer. Square One requires a student to summarize the poem. Square Two requires a student to decide whether the poem has a message, and, if it does, to record that message. Square Three requires the reader to identify and record key words or phrases from the poem. Square Four requires the reader to record any questions they may have about the poem. Next, place students in small groups providing each group with the four square organizer and a poem. Students should read the poem and then cooperatively complete the organizer. Each group should share its completed organizer with the rest of the class.


To prepare for this activity the teacher should select an age appropriate poem of eight to ten lines and print each line of the poem on an individual sentence strip. To begin the activity with students the teacher should select eight to ten students to receive a poetry line sentence strip. These students should position themselves in an open area of the classroom and remaining students should form a circle around them in a Fishbowl configuration. Each student holding a sentence strip should read aloud its line of poetry and offer, if possible, a restatement of its meaning. Any student in the outer circle may also offer suggestions regarding the meaning of the line. Once each student has shared his/her line and its meaning has been suggested, students in the outer circle may direct students in the inner circle to place themselves to show the correct order of lines in the poem. Once the correct order has been set, a student should read aloud the entire poem. Next students and teacher should discuss the meaning of the complete poem with attention given to whether or not the suggested line meanings change when the complete poem is considered.


Once the teacher has instructed students about the difference between the poet and the speaker of the poem, students should be able to read and complete the following chart independently. The teacher should provide students with an age appropriate poem that they will read silently. A suggestion: lyric poetry works well with this activity. Once students have read the poem they may complete the chart individually, with a partner, or with a small group.

Speaker Identification Text Source
Cultural Background  
Other Text Specific Identifiers  

The teacher and students should discuss answers to verify correctness. The same activity can be completed with small groups of students reading different poems.


The teacher will select a variety of age appropriate poems and compose paraphrases of each poem for student instruction. The teacher will read aloud a selected poem and then read aloud the accompanying paraphrase. Then teacher and students will discuss how the paraphrase is different from the original poem, how it is the same, and how a paraphrase helps one construct their own meaning of a text. Next, the teacher will give the remaining poems to students and have them match the remaining paraphrases to the original text. Finally students should be given a final poem that they will read silently and then paraphrase orally or in written form.


To help students distinguish the speaker of the poem from the poet, the teacher should review the role of the narrator in prose. Once students understand the role of the narrator in prose, they can transfer that information to a piece of narrative poetry. First students should read an age appropriate narrative poem. Next, students should identify the point of view of the speaker of the poem as first person (a character in the poem), third person (a character not in the poem who observes and then reports actions within the poem), third person limited (a character not in the poem but with insight into the thoughts of a single character in the poem), or third person omniscient (a character not in the poem but with insight into the thoughts of all the characters in the poem). Through discussion, students should come to understand that the speaker of the poem like a narrator in prose is a creation of the poet. Finally students should be able to identify characteristics of the speaker of the poem. An extension of this activity would require students to select another character in the narrative poem to serve as the speaker and discuss how the poem would change were the speaker to change.


Students will read an age appropriate poem. After reading the poem the teacher will provide students with an accompanying text related to the poem: brief biography of the poet, information about the poem's time period, information about any poetry feature, etc…Students will read that text for further information. Prior to giving students the accompanying text, the teacher will have extracted particular words and phrases from that text and recorded them on slips of paper, note cards, etc…Next, students will be placed in small groups; each group will be given a set of the extracted words and phrases. The group of students will be instructed to construct a poem from those words and phrases that will mirror the importance of the information in the prose passage. Students may use a combination of long and short lines, single word lines, repetition of words, etc…to emphasize the importance of word placement in poetry. When each poem has been organized, each group will present the poem to the class and explain the significance of the word placement.