The Poetry Writing project features three authors whose works expose
students to various characteristics of poetry, such as powerful
description, rhythm, and rhyming. Each of the writers offers models
of his or her work as well as suggestions for students. Students
are introduced to warm-up exercises, and other tips to help them
create, revise, and share their work. An ongoing journal component
is included in the Teacher's Guide to provide students with a personal
portfolio they can use to organize, information, notes, and their
own poems in process.
may wish to use elements from all three workshops in your poetry
lesson, the following grade configuration is a suggestion: Jack
Prelutsky's writing workshop is aimed at younger students from grades
14; a riddle writing project with author Jean Marzollo targets
students from grades 25; and Karla Kuskin's writing tips will
be most appropriate with more advanced readers and writers between
the grades of 4-8.
Several assessment components are embedded in this lesson plan.
highlight activities that address specific target skills. Targeted
skills are listed in the Learning Objectives. A rubric
assesses student proficiency with the poetry writing activity, and
a journal checklist assesses students
proficiency with global project skills.
Online Activities are designed to support the teaching of standards-based
skills. While participating in the "Poetry Writing" project, students
become proficient with several of these skills. Each skill below
is linked to its point of use in the Teacher's Guide.
the course of participating in the "Poetry Writing" project
unique characteristics of the poetry genre.
poetry writing skills such as rhythm, rhyming, and descriptive
the writing process to create original poetry.
how to review and revise their own writing.
Web technology to post original writing online.
Poetry Writing with
Students discover how to shape ideas and words into creative,
descriptive, and silly poems. Popular children's poet Jack Prelutsky
provides students with an example of his own poetry accompanied
by an audio clip of him reading the poem. He also shares writing
tips that he uses when he writes poetry. Students get to show what
they learned when Jack challenges them to continue a poem he has
begun. Jack also provides students with guidelines for revising
Writing I Spy Riddles with Jean Marzollo
Author Jean Marzollo leads students on a poetry writing journey
using her riddle-writing style from the award-winning I Spy series.
Using models of her published riddles and photographs from her books,
Ms. Marzollo turns a complex writing style into a simple format
that young students can copy and extend.
Poetry Writing with Karla Kuskin
Students learn to write poems with help from award-winning poet
Karla Kuskin. Karla provides students with a sample poem, plus writing
tips, strategies, and challenges to help them create their own poetry.
She also gives students guidelines on revising their writing, and
provides general comments, suggestions, and ideas about writing
Once students have crafted their own poems, they can submit them
to Scholastic's Poetry Collection using a simple interactive form.
After being reviewed by Scholastic.com staff, the students' poems
may be published online! Students can view all accepted poetry submissions
in the archive.
Poetry Idea Engine
Students can practice writing their own poems with the Poetry Idea Engine. Developed with GoCyberCamp, this engine allows students to explore several types of poems including limericks, haikus, cinquains, and free verses.
Write a Collaborative Poem with Jack Prelutsky
On April 21, 2004, Jack Prelutsky moderated a live poem written by students online. Read the transcript of the poem with Jack's comments.
Project Introduction (1 Day)
Invite students to discuss what they know about poetry. Go through
a book of well-known poems with students, and read some favorites.
Have students discuss poems that they know. Ask: How are poems different
from stories? Begin a poetry web on the chalkboard. Ask volunteers
to contribute ideas they feel should be part of the graphic. Then
distribute poetry journals to students. Collaborate on a list of
ways students will use the journal include poems and note-taking.
Ask students to create a journal entry about what they've learned
that they think it will be helpful to remember.
Building Background (35 Days)
Introduce students to the poetry styles of the author that best
suits the needs of your class: grades 14: Jack
Prelutsky; for grades 25: Jean
Marzollo; and for grades 48: Karla
Kuskin. Allow students time to visit the pages and read author
bios or print-out pages from independent reading. You may wish to
read aloud with your students. Encourage students to take notes
in the journal. Suggest they write about what interests each author
about the genre, or any other interesting tips about writing.
Have a volunteer read aloud a poem from one or each of the three
writers: Karla Kuskin, Jack
Prelutsky, and Jean Marzollo.
Then have students discuss their thoughts about each poem. Write
informative responses on the chalkboard. Ask them to pay attention
to punctuation marks to help them understand the rhythm of a poem.
If applicable, encourage students to compare and contrast elements
in the pieces. Ask: How are they similar? Which poem did you like
best? Why? Have students create a list of features that make each
poem unique. Write these on the chalkboard. Have students contribute
any relevant information to their journals.
(23 Days) Let students know that they will be writing
original poems. Point out that poetry, like any other writing genre,
has its own rules, and that these rules will help students construct
their own poems. Encourage students to visit the tips page for the
poet they are working with. You may wish to promote all writing
styles by visiting each site.
Work with students as a class to develop the first tip. Create a
rhyming wall on the chalkboard. Divide it into three columns, one
for each "syllable" word. Encourage students to use made-up words
as well. Discuss why rhyming might be a good tool to use in poems.
Then suggest students work in groups to do activities 2 and 3.
Visit her "Write Your Own Poem Riddle"
page for riddle writing tips or Riddle
Writing Hints. Share an I Spy book with students, if
possible, to familiarize them with the poetic style. Tap out the
rhythmic pattern with students as they read. Read aloud Jean Marzollo's
"Write Your Own I Spy Riddle"
page with students. Encourage students to view the published
pieces of poetry to use as models for their own work. Invite
them to tour the I
gallery for models.
Have students read in pairs, and drill one another on what they've
read. Point out that Ms. Kuskin uses a style called free verse,
which has very few distinct rules or boundaries. Ask them to notice
the verses in her poem. Have students compare various ones. Let
them know that the rhythm, or cadence, of free verse varies throughout
her poem. Though the words don't rhyme, they flow along an uneven
pattern. Encourage writers to draft a preliminary piece of work.
Remind them to implement Kuskin's use of description in a free-verse
style. Then have partners exchange their work and check that it
responds to each of Karla's suggestions.
Print out the list of ten
tips and post it in the classroom for reference as students
write. Invite all students to discuss authors' tips and share which
ones they think they would find particularly useful for their projects.
Encourage students to contribute any tips, ideas, or poems in the
style of the guiding writers in their journals.
it's time for students to draft their poems. Suggest that they read
the ideas presented in their poet's "Write Your Poem" page before
they attempt their own work. You may wish to review these aloud.
Post the writing rubric in the classroom for students to use as
a guideline for what is expected of their poems.
Jack Prelutsky: Have students refer to Jack Prelutsky's
"Write Your Poem page". Suggest
that they read all three poems first. Then after choosing the one
they like best, have them extend it to create their own version
of the poem.
Jean Marzollo: Encourage students to write four lines of
a riddle poem. Remind them to notice the placement of rhyming words
and punctuation. You may wish to encourage eager writers to return
to this section on a monthly basis to publish new I Spy work.
Karla Kuskin: Encourage students to follow the directions
in her "Write Your Poem" page.
If time permits, assign the second poem as a take-home piece.
Remind all students to refer to the "My Poem" and "Brainstorming"
activities and their journals as they draft their poems.
Revising (2 Days)
When students are done with their drafts, have them exchange papers
with a peer for comments. Partners can write their comments on the
draft itself. Then have students follow the revising
guidelines. If you are working with a Classport partner class,
exchange drafts via e-mail for peer review and comment. While students
revise their drafts, have them check for spelling, grammar, and
have completed their revision, have them follow directions to Publish
Online with Jack Prelutsky and
Karla Kuskin or with Jean
Visit the Anthology with students throughout the life of the project.
Do one or all of the following activities with the Poetry Anthology:
- Have students
visit this page during each step of the writing process. To inform
them on their work in progress.
students to read submissions and choose the ones they feel best
reflect the skills that were taught. Print them out as good writing
models and post them in the classroom.
- Hold a critiquing
circle. Have individual students feature a poem and discuss how
it fulfills/doesn't fulfill the requirements of poetry as learned
during this project.
students to rework poems. Have them submit before and after works.
- Invite students
to treat poems as starters and extend them.
Return to the
Poetry Anthology after students publish their pieces online to see
if their own writing has been included.
Give students time to complete any unfinished work. Use this time
to schedule a poetry performance day. Assess students' proficiency
with the poetry writing activity by consulting the appropriate poetry
rubric. You may wish to review students' journal with them.
Use the following guidelines to assess contents.
demonstrate the acquisition of key skills?
include tips and discussion notes?
include pre-writing warm-up exercises?
This project aids students in meeting national standards in several
National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International
Reading Association (IRA) include:
- Read a wide
range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of
texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States
and the world. (1)
read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres
to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical,
ethical, aesthetic) of human experience. (2)
apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g.,
spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language,
and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print
use a variety of technological and informational resources (libraries,
databases, computer networks) to gather and synthesize information
in order to create and communicate knowledge. (8)
develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language
use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic
regions, and social roles. (9)
as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of
a variety of literacy communities. (11)
use spoken, written, and visual language for learning, persuasion,
and exchange of information. (12)
Foundation Standards for Students:
- use technology
tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote
- use technology
tools to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts,
and other audiences
- use a variety
of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively
to multiple audiences
- use technology
to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of
Have your class compile their poems into a class anthology. Students
can create a table of contents, staple, and photocopy all the poems
together. Then they may add the anthology to the school library.
Students may wish to also make a book of their own "published" poems,
and add drawings to illustrate each one.
Invite students can act out their poems, or create dance or movement
pieces to accompany them.
Set up a special poetry hour, and ask your students to take turns
reading their poems to the class. Invite other classes to take part,
and ask questions.
Encourage students to develop additional writing tips and challenges
they think would be helpful for writing poetry. Have the rest of
the class try them out.
Have students write their own poem-starters, then trade with a classmate
to complete each other's poems.
Ask students to read one of Karla Kuskin's or Jack Prelutsky's books
of poetry and analyze it using the tips and challenges that have
been provided in this lesson.
Invite students to bring in copies of their favorite poems to read
Have students come up with a pattern scheme for a favorite poem.
Students can transfer the pattern using other forms, such as numbers,
letters, pictures, etc.
See the Writing with Writers Booklist for suggested books to teach poetry.