Poetry Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Liven up your instruction on poetry with the help of a video lesson and fun in-class activities. To take your instruction to the next level, consider using the optional supplementary activities and related lessons.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify the essential elements of poetry
  • label the elements using song lyrics


1-2 hours


  • Copies of lyrics to 3-4 different popular songs
  • Each student will need red, blue, yellow, green, pink, and purple crayons or pencils

Curriculum Standards


Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.


Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text (e.g., through examples or anecdotes).


Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

Key Vocabulary

  • Content
  • Topic
  • Tone
  • Word choice
  • Word order
  • Figurative language
  • Imagery
  • Form
  • Type
  • Stanza structure
  • Line lengths
  • Rhyme scheme
  • Rhythm
  • Meter
  • Meaning


  • Start by showing the class the video lesson Form & Meaning in Poetry.
  • As the lesson is playing, write the following words on the board:
      • TOPIC: Red
      • TONE: Blue
      • WORD CHOICES: Yellow
      • WORD ORDER: Green
      • IMAGERY: Purple
  • Pause the video at 2:24, and discuss with students the importance of the elements of content--how does tone, imagery, word choice and so forth help poets create meaning? Compare poetry to song lyrics, both of which use elements of content to convey meaning and emotion.


  • Pass out the copies of assorted song lyrics, one sheet to each student.
  • Have students identify the different examples of content (as displayed on the board) in the song lyrics by underlining each in the color indicated. If the content is implied rather than stated explicitly, students can write it on the page in the appropriate color. For example, if the topic is not stated in the lyrics, students should write it on the page in red.

Return to the Video

  • Continue playing the remainder of the video lesson.
  • As the video lesson is playing, write the following on the board:
      • TYPE
      • RHYTHM
      • METER
      • MEANING


  • When the video lesson has played in its entirety, have students use pen or pencil to identify (on a separate sheet of paper) the elements of form in the song lyrics. For example, if the song's lyrics are written like a story, the type might be considered a narrative. If the lyrics are divided into four-line blocks, the stanza structure would be quatrains.
  • Finally, have students share their songs' lyrics and the meaning of the lyrics with the class. Does everyone agree with them? Could there be additional interpretations of the lyrics?

Discussion Questions

  • How many examples of poetry can we identify in our daily lives?
  • How could changing one element of poetry change the meaning of the poem?


  • Have students select a well-known poem to analyze. Ask students to use the poem to identify each of the elements mentioned in the lesson.
  • Have students use the elements of content and form to compose a poem about a friend, parent or pet.

Related Lessons

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