Lesson Plan Title: Revising for Strong Verb Choice
Grade Level: 9-12
Duration: 50 minutes
Description: Because every word counts in poetry, students need to be able to justify all of their word choices. In this lesson, you will find activities to help students analyze verb choice and you will find a guideline for students to use to revise their own poems. You will also find examples of student poetry from The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards that use strong verbs.
Student Objectives: Students will learn the value of unique and powerful verbs and they will be able to justify their own verb choices.
List Materials (PDF):
Set Up and Prepare: Make copies of "Liquid Grace" without the verbs. Have students bring in a poem that is ready for revision. Write a row of common verbs on the board "walk, talk, go."
PART I: Mini-lesson on verb choice
Introduce the topic of the lesson: using unique and powerful verbs in poetry. With the class, brainstorm different ways to say, "walk", "talk", "go" and any other common verbs that you would like to use. Write their ideas under the verbs on the board.
Part II: Student activity with sample poem
Pass out copies of Susa Lynne's "Liquid Grace" without verbs. Give students some time to add their own verbs to the poem. Instruct them to be conscious of sound and originality when they pick their verbs. Once they are finished, they can volunteer to read their poems aloud. You can post Susa Lynne's poem at the end of the class. You can also show Delia Springstubb's "Not a Love Poem" if you need another student example of good verb choice.
Part II: Self-analysis and revision
Now, have students circle the verbs in their own poems. They write their verbs in the left-hand column of the verb analysis sheet. In the right hand column, they will answer the question, "Is this a good verb choice?" If it is, they need to justify that. How does the verb choice enhance meaning? How does it compliment the sound and flow of the words? If not, they need to re-evaluate and come up with a new verb. They can work on their own or get suggestions from peers.
Assess Students: At this stage, more important than creating an award-winning poem is the idea that students are becoming conscious writers. Even if you do not agree with their verb choice, if their justification shows conscious thought that is the most important. If they are writing with an active mind, eventually the award-winning poems will come.
Evaluate Lesson: How are students' first drafts after this lesson? Do you notice progress in their word choice?
Assignments: Students find poems that use cool verb choice. They write paragraphs about how the verb choice enhances sound and meaning. They present the poems to the class along with their verb analyses.