School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 6

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. Analyze elements of poetry to facilitate understanding and interpretation

Objective a. Use structural features to distinguish among types of poems such as haiku, form/shape poetry, cinquain, etc.


The teacher should place students in small groups and provide each group with a series of poetry texts that will serve as resources. Poetry texts should be marked so that students access specific poems. Each group should be assigned a structural feature of poetry as its focus. At earlier grades focuses can be refrain, stanzas, shapes, rhyme, etc…, and at more advanced grades focuses can be structures associated with types of poems like ballads, lyrics, elegies etc…(Definitions for all poetry structures and types can be found in the Clarification for Standard Three, Indicator Four.) Students in the group should read the marked texts. After the reading of each text, students in the group should take notes about their assigned focus within the poem. After reading all the marked texts and reviewing their notes, each group of students should complete a comprehensive judgment about their assigned structural feature. To extend this activity, each group can share their findings with the rest of the class or each group can move from area to area, reading the assigned poems and the comprehensive statement of the original group.


The teacher should place each student with a partner. Each pair of students should receive a single poem that contains some or all of the structural features of poetry. Around the room the teacher should place posters which list a single structural feature of poetry at the top of the poster and two columns extending the vertical length of the poster. One column should be labeled YES and the other column labeled NO. To begin this activity, each pair of students should read his/her assigned poem. With pairs of students beginning at different poster sites, the partners should determine if their poem has that structural feature and then write the poem's title under the YES or NO column. Additionally, the partners should underline/highlight that structural feature on the assigned poem. Once the partners have visited each poster site and identified structural features in the assigned poem, the teacher should review random entries on the charts to ascertain correctness of student responses.


To review or present the different structural features of poetry, the teacher would begin with Cornell notes. Divide a paper in half lengthwise. The left side is blank while the right side has listed the types and definitions of the selected poetry. As the teacher presents each type to the class, each student writes his/her reaction to that type on the left side of the paper. Reactions may be examples the student knows, questions the student might have, likes, dislikes etc…

Sample Cornell Notes
Student Reaction/Response Notes/Information
I think the story of Beowulf that we read in 7th grade started out as an epic because it tells about his adventures. Narrative poetry: poetry that tells a story. It can be a ballad or epic. It has plot, setting, characters…

After the students have reacted to each poetry type, students can be placed in small groups to share their reactions to the poems.


After students have been taught the structural features of poems, the teacher should present them with a chart structured like the sample with the number of types of poems the teacher wishes.

Type of Poem Structural Features Example
Haiku Form of Japanese poetry
Three lines focused on a single element
Lyric Shows thoughts and feelings of one speaker
Variety of forms
Shape Has form of its subject  

Present students with a packet of poems with different structural features. Using the information on the chart, students should categorize the poems by listing their titles in the Example column. Students should also locate within the poems those structural features that identify that poem as a particular type. If the teacher has a variety of poetry collections available, students might go on a "scavenger hunt" to find examples of each type of poem in those collections.