The Highwayman Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes can be a tricky poem to teach to students. Use this lesson plan to guide students through analysis of the major themes as they work in interactive groups to summarize key aspects.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • summarize poem
  • explain themes of poem
  • describe figurative language used in poem


  • 1 hour


  • Copies of lesson transcripts, one for each student
  • Copies of poem The Highwayman, one for each student

Key Vocabulary

  • Modernism
  • Romantic Style
  • figurative language
  • Gothic Romanticism
  • onomatopoeia
  • repetition

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2

Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.


  • Connect students to learning by asking them to respond to the prompt 'What makes art popular?' Share and discuss ideas.
  • Tell students they will be analyzing a poem titled The Highwayman by author Alfred Noyes.
  • Hand out copies of his poem and read together. Allow students to respond.
  • Divide students into five groups. Assign one of the following roles each grouping:
  1. The romantic world of Noyes
  2. A lovers meeting
  3. The setting of a trap
  4. Language of The Highwayman
  5. Themes of The Highwayman
  • Distribute copies of the lesson The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes: Summary, Theme & Poem Analysis.
  • Instruct students to use the lesson and poem to investigate their assigned sections. They should find evidence of their assignment in the poem and be prepared to discuss and explain.
  • Students will each take notes on their assigned section as they prepare to teach another group.
  • After groups have completed assignment, have one student from each group remain at table and mix other students so each new group is represented with students from each grouping, 1-5.
  • Students now become subject matter experts and share their information with the new group, teaching about their topics.
  • Circulate the room during work time, assisting students with assignment when necessary.


  • After all students have shared, ask students to create a comprehension grid in their notebooks, a page divided into four parts.
  • Randomly assign students one of the following questions and have them answer in one square on grid.
  1. Give three examples of figurative language, including type.
  2. Rewrite an ending for the poem.
  3. Is Bess a hero of idiot? Explain.
  4. Is the Highwayman a good guy or bad guy? Explain.
  • After students have completed answering their question, instruct them to circulate the room searching for answers to the other three. Share answers and discuss high-level questions with one another, debating stance if different.
  • Come together and discuss experience. Share answers to questions.


  • Search for the author's reading of the poem and share with class. Discuss the impact of hearing and seeing the author.
  • Have students write a poem in the Gothic Romanticism style. Record them reading it.
  • Allow students to perform the poem.

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