Billy Collins Lesson Plan

Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 15 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Learning about old poets may not be the most exciting lesson for students. But this lesson plan uses games and discussion to engage students in the work of American poet Billy Collins.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain Billy Collins' contribution to literature
  • identify characteristics of Billy Collins' work
  • demonstrate an understanding of the use of similes, personification and metaphors in poetry


30 minutes - Instructions

20-30 minutes - Activity 1

10-15 minutes - Activity 2

15-30 minutes - Activity 3

30-45 minutes - Activity 4 (may be given as a take-home project)

Curriculum Standards


Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.


Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)


Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.


  • Hard copies of the text lesson Billy Collins: Biography & Poetry and the lesson quiz
  • Hard copies of the following Billy Collins poems:
    • ''Design''
    • ''American Sonnet''
    • ''Aristotle''
    • ''Forgetfulness''
  • Beach ball
  • Note cards


  • Begin with a discussion of poetry:
    • What is poetry?
    • What makes poetry different from other literary works?
    • Do you experience poetry in your own lives? (Remind students that song and rap lyrics amount to poetry set to music.)
    • Does anyone know of a famous poet or a famous poem?
    • What about the American poet Billy Collins?
  • Tell students that you will be learning about Billy Collins, his life achievements and his poetry style in this lesson.

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