Want to be done planning your high school poetry lessons for the rest of your career?
A collection of questions, poetry activities, and writing prompts on 55 poems that I have taught multiple times over the years, this bundle will provide you with over three months of rigorous, engaging and ready-to-go lessons. The handouts included here are great choices for supplementing a thematic unit, for adding more voices and perspectives to your unit on a novel or play, or for a substitute plan.
These lessons also make great choices for online remote teaching because the clear instructions and structured questions are written for students to tackle independently. Additionally, the concrete text-based questions discourage cheating by focusing on specific elements of the poems.
The variety of materials, real-life connections, innovative approaches to the poems, and unique choices of texts will keep students engaged and excited about poetry—which is even more necessary as they work from home with multiple distractions.
Every lesson contains questions for close reading and discussion, freewrite prompts and suggestions for creative interactive notebook activities, and ideas for assessment. In all, there are over 100 engaging and thought-proving freewrite prompts to get your students past writer’s block and writing freely.
All of the answer keys quote the important passages, so there is no guessing on your part as to which parts of the poems are most important. When you discuss the questions with your classes, you can point them to the sections to make sure that they are engaging with the poetry and working to interpret the sometimes challenging language.
With 10 different suggestions for assessment including essays, projects, slam poetry performances, and quizzes with rubrics and guides, you will have plenty to chose from—and you won’t get bored grading student work.
There are no lectures or power points here—students will do the work themselves, with guidance from their teacher. Rather than telling them what the poems mean, you will be empowering them with the confidence and skills to tackle a poem on their own.
***This is a growing bundle, which means that you will get any additions for free.***
Resources Included in This Bundle:
Poetic Devices | Elements of Poetry | Poetic Elements | Poetry Activities (normally priced at $7.97) These complete lesson plans will empower your students to understand the elements of poetry and how they function to create meaning in a poem or other literary text. The handouts and cooperative activities here will be the backbone of your poetry unit. The explanations and tips are practical, useful, and have been proven to strengthen students’ understanding of poetry. I’ve honed and developed the explanations during sixteen years of teaching poetry at every level, from remedial to Advanced Placement Literature, and I know that they will get results. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Poetry Unit: Close Reading & Literary Analysis Introduction | Poetry Activities (normally priced at $6.99) The method that students will learn in these lessons is to unpack a poem using a graphic organizer and to understand the elements of poetry by writing some poetry themselves. After sixteen years of teaching students to read poetry, I have found that these are the most practical and accessible ways for students to understand how a poet’s choices help to create meaning. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Shakespeare Sonnet 18 | Sonnet 130 | Sonnet 73 | Love Metaphor Unit (normally priced at $6.97) How do we talk about love? It’s a question that has been asked for centuries, and it is one that has never been fully answered, even by the greatest poets of all time. And yet, it is an important question to ask, especially for teenagers who are still struggling to define their world. Get your classes to explore popular culture, primary source documents, and Shakespeare’s sonnets with this innovative and engaging unit. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
"We Real Cool" Gwendolyn Brooks & Popular Music | Analyzing Unintended Messages (normally priced at $2.97) Students often sing the lyrics to popular songs without really pausing to think about the messages that they convey—especially the unintended messages. By analyzing a popular song, your classes will think deeper and question the ways that youth culture is portrayed in popular media and art. Gwendolyn Brook’s well-known and anthologized poem “We Real Cool” is deceptively simple. It tells the story of “the seven,” who play pool, skip school, and plan to die young. It also brings up questions of reputation and what it means to be cool, it incorporates an incredible amount of poetic elements for such a short poem—and it sounds great when read out loud. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
William Shakespeare Sonnet 138 and Dorothy Parker Poetry Lesson: Love and Lies (normally priced at $3.97) Why do we lie to ourselves? Why do we lie to those we love? What does it mean to have a healthy romantic relationship? Get your students analyzing poetry and engaging in fascinating discussions on some big questions. With 19 engaging bellringer prompts and 4 creative writing exercises, this is a lesson that you and your classes will refer back to throughout the year. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken | Questions for Close Reading and Analysis (normally priced at $1.97) Get your students thinking about big ideas and questions that matter, as well as noticing how the smallest details of a poem contribute to meaning. This poem is one that everyone thinks they know, but they don’t really. Ultimately, your students will realize that this poem is about the lies we tell others and ourselves in order to add meaning and depth to our decisions in life. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
"Half-Hanged Mary" poem by Margaret Atwood | Questions | Lesson Plan (normally priced at $3.97) A modern feminist retelling of the witch hunts of the Puritan times, this poem by Margaret Atwood is a great choice for teaching poetic elements as well as for exploring some of the major themes of American Literature. While students might need a few class periods to fully read and analyze the entire piece, that time will be well spent on a fascinating and unique poem. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
"Hanging Fire" by Audre Lorde | Poetry Lesson | Close Reading (normally priced at $1.47) This is an accessible and relevant poem that has been a favorite of my students for years. In this free verse poem, the teenage speaker worries about everything from braces to her own death. Students will love this poem because of its natural sound and its portrayal of the teenage mind. You will love this poem because it will broaden your students’ understanding of what makes great poetry. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Sharon Olds' Poem "The Victims" | Poetry Lesson: Family, Divorce, Point of View (normally priced at $1.47) This poem is an exploration of the ways that family dynamics change as we all grow up. The speaker deals with her parents’ divorce and her shifting allegiances. She also deals with forgiveness, the past, and figuring out how to let go of anger that she feels towards her father. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Margaret Atwood "Siren Song" | Poetry Lesson: Gender Studies, Classical Allusion (normally priced at $1.47) This well-known poem by Margaret Atwood is a great choice for any unit on The Odyssey, poetry, or gender. In it, Atwood takes the classic story of the mythical sirens and turns it on its head. The poem seems simple, but it is actually quite sophisticated and subtle in its meaning. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here
Naomi Shihab Nye, Claude McKay, Richard Blanco: Immigration Poetry Lesson (normally priced at $3.97) The pain of missing home is a universal experience, but for immigrants, that feeling is especially powerful. Additionally, defining home when you no longer live where you were born or where you grow up can be tricky. These poems will make a great addition to your unit on immigration, poetry, exile, leaving home, or the American dream. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Contemporary War Poetry Lesson | Brian Turner | Videos & Close Reading Questions (normally priced at $2.99) Brian Turner is a contemporary American poet and a veteran of the Iraq War. This engaging lesson explores the experience of listening to a poet read and explain his own poetry. The discussions here will engage students to think about different ways to experience poetry. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Growth Mindset Lesson Plan | Poetry | "Invictus" | Growth Mindset Poems (normally priced at $2.99) While on the surface these two poems differ greatly in their tone and subject matter, both poems great poems to explore the concept of growth mindset. “The Writer” tells a story of a father listening to his daughter write in her room; by comparing her experience writing a story to that of a ship traveling over the sea as well as to a bird that the speaker and his daughter watched struggle to break free one day, the speaker discusses themes of persistence, pain, struggle, and of the journey of life. In “Invictus,” the speaker tells of his struggles with the darkness and brutality of circumstance and speaks of the power that he has to decide his own fate no matter what comes his way. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
"Richard Cory" & "If and When Dreams Come True” | The Great Gatsby Poetry Unit (normally priced at $1.97) These poems explore themes of class, money, and dreams. They make a great addition to any discussion on the American dream, aligning with the messages of some texts, and adding a perspective not often seen in many texts. “If and When Dreams Come True” suggests that it is the pursuit of our dreams that give meaning to our lives, rather than the obtainment of those dreams. “Richard Cory” suggests that money doesn’t buy happiness, and that we don’t really know what other people are feeling on the inside. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Poetry Analysis Lesson: Tradition, Consumerism, and the Search for the Self (normally priced at $2.99) On the surface, Sandra Gilbert’s poem “Sonnet: The Ladies Home Journal” and Allen Ginsberg’s poem “A Supermarket in California” have little in common. The first, by a noted feminist, is short, contained, and more formal; it deals with the world of advertising and print media and its affects on women’s ideas of self. Ginsberg’s poem is longer and looser, but it also deals with the effects of tradition and expectations on a search for self. While Gilbert’s poem wasn’t written until 1984, its subject of the “bygone life” of a “neat mom” conjures the conservative 1950s against which Ginsberg was rebelling. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Pat Mora: Immigration & The American Dream | Poetry Lesson | Questions (normally priced at $1.97) These two poems by Pat Mora are seemingly simple and easy to read, but they also bring up bigger issues of language, power, relationships, immigration, and The American Dream. They are great choices for students who are reluctant to read poetry, and they are great choices to add to a bigger discussions of themes of American Literature as they offer perspectives not often seen in other texts. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Shakespeare: Sonnet 73 & Dylan Thomas: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (normally priced at $2.99) Get your students analyzing poetry and discussing difficult yet important questions with this engaging lesson on two iconic poems. This poetry lesson teaches close reading and literary analysis by examining two different poems and their views on death, dying, and old age. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Kubla Khan: Dreams, Drugs, and Inspiration | Lesson (normally priced at $1.97) Coleridge claims to have written “Kubla Khan” after waking up from an opium dream. Whether or not that story is true makes for an interesting discussion. The influence of drugs on creation is definitely a theme about which teenagers have an opinion, and so students are engaged in this lesson right from the start. While Coleridge claims that this poem was a result of his drug use, after a discussion, students will come to the realization that artists might tell a story about how their work was inspired because it helps sell the work better or because they are afraid of exposing themselves to criticism. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
"Let America Be America Again," Langston Hughes | Creative Writing | Questions (normally priced at $1.97) This poem expresses disillusionment as well as hope. While Hughes points out all the problems, all the ways that less powerful groups suffer in the United States, he also has hope that the people will one day rise up and make the country great, fulfilling its potential in a way that they have not done yet. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Creative Writing, Diction, Tone, & Satire in Poetry: William Carlos Williams (normally priced at $1.97) William Carlos William’s poem “This is Just to Say” is a deceptively simple poem about the everyday experience of taking the last delicacy from the fridge. It’s also a poem about family relationships, communication, guilt, and family life. It’s also a great poem to easily and quickly teach tone, diction, and structure. The creative writing prompt included will get students to understand satire and humor by writing it themselves. Your students will be surprised at how much fun it is to write poetry. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Emma Lazarus "The New Colossus" & Adrienne Rich: Poetry Lesson on Immigration (normally priced at $3.97) In these two poems, Emma Lazarus and Adrienne Rich present parallel views of the immigrant experience. Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus” has the well-known quote that is associated with the Statue of Liberty. In fact, a plaque engraved with this poem has been placed inside the famous statue. Rich’s modern poem “Prospective Immigrants Please Note” is more ambivalent in its portrayal of the immigrant experience. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Adrienne Rich "Diving Into The Wreck" | Poetry Lesson to Teach Close Reading (normally priced at $1.47) This lesson on Rich’s powerful yet accessible poem is one that students will remember and refer to throughout the year. Through an extended metaphor of deep sea diving, “Diving Into The Wreck” explores abstract concepts such as self-exploration, dealing with the past, the scars of trauma, and the process of turning pain into art. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Harlem Renaissance Poetry Unit: Race & the American Dream | A Dream Deferred (normally priced at $3.99) These three challenging but accessible poems from the Harlem Renaissance all deal with themes of the American Dream. Within that broad topic, "Harlem" (also known as "Dreams" or "A Dream Deferred") by Langston Hughes, “Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem,” by Helene Johnson, and "We Were the Mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar also deal with themes of race, culture, and heritage. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
"I Hear America Singing," Whitman & “I, Too," Hughes | Questions (normally priced at $1.97) In these two poems, Whitman and Hughes present parallel views of the American experience. Whitman’s poem is joyous and celebratory; Hughes’ poem is more skeptical, but it is not without hope. There are also prompts for in-class writing as well as for longer assessment. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Anne Bradstreet Puritan Poetry Lesson | Upon the Burning of Our House | Handouts (normally priced at $3.97) "To My Dear And Loving Husband" and "Verses upon the Burning of our House, July 18th, 1666" by Anne Bradstreet serve as an introduction to a Puritan world view, as well as to some of the earliest values of the United States. As one of the first poets of the nation, Bradstreet’s ideas on love, life, materialism, and the afterlife reflect many popular views of her era. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Marge Piercy Poem Lesson | Rosh Hashanah | Activities | Close Reading (normally priced at $1.97) This compelling poetry lesson will get your students thinking about how they can spark a change in their own worlds and is a great supplement to your unit on Night by Elie Wiesel, Diary of Anne Frank, or to your unit on contemporary poetry, Jewish culture, or the New Year. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Slam Poetry Unit: Poetry Activities, Poetry Writing, Genocide Literature (normally priced at $6.97) This innovative unit focusing on the poetry of Emtithal Mahmoud and other contemporary slam poets will encourage your students to find their voices, tell their stories, and speak out about what matters to them. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
"Annabel Lee" Edgar Allan Poe Activities | Poetry Unit Plan | Poetry Lesson (normally priced at $3.97) This mini unit featuring the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, William Butler Yeats, and Christina Rossetti as well as the paintings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais is one that will help your students expand their understanding of gender roles in the 19th century. Poe’s classic poem “Annabel Lee” is often seen as a lovely though slightly creepy portrayal of idealized love. However, when read with more context, his version of the beautiful dead woman is both more troubling and more meaningful. In this three-day mini unit, your classes will dig deeper into expectations of women in the 19th century and the ways that they were silenced by male artists. Your students will also try their hand at some poetry writing of their own, ending the unit by giving the silenced women a chance to talk back when they write an original poem of their own. You can view the full priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Langston Hughes Poem | Harlem Renaissance | Theme for English B (normally priced at $2.97). Langston Hughes is a favorite with teachers and students for good reason—his writing is accessible but also challenging and he doesn’t shy away from the tough topics. In this poem, the speaker is tasked with a vague assignment to write a page about himself. His frustrations with finding the truth through writing are universal, but what this student reveals about the truths of race and his own identity are subtle, complex, and a great addition to your curriculum. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking here.
Claude McKay Poem: If We Must Die | Harlem Renaissance Poetry Unit (normally priced at $2.97). Written after the horrific events of the Red Summer of 1919, Claude McKay’s timeless poem “If We Must Die” attempts to answer that important question. This classic of the Harlem Renaissance is also a great poem to explore issues of the Black Lives Matter movement. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking here.
“Busted Boy” by Simon Ortiz | Native American Literature | Native Poem (normally priced at $1.97). Telling the story of a Native American who witnesses a Black boy get arrested at a bus station, Simon Ortiz’s powerful and accessible poem is a great choice for teaching diction, imagery, syntax, enjambment, and point of view. It is also a wonderful choice for discussing themes of race, power, and the American experience. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking .
“Mother to Son” | Langston Hughes | Figurative Language | Google Classroom (normally priced at $1.97). Langston Hughes’ poem “Mother to Son” is simple enough for most students to comprehend the bigger themes without a problem, yet in spite—or perhaps because of—its simplicity, it is also a wonderful poem for exploring extended metaphor, a parent’s love for their children, and natural writing. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking .
Native American Unit on Dakota 38 | Native American Literature & Primary Sources (normally priced at $3.97). The largest execution in U.S. history was the result of a complex history of money, land, and betrayal; it is also an event that has been brushed aside and ignored for the past centuries. By listening to an engaging radio show, examining primary source documents and visual art, working through a masterful poem on the topic by Layli Long Soldier, and watching a powerful documentary, your students will gain a deeper understanding of the events of that tragic time as well as an appreciation for why we study history. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking .
Black Lives Matter Distance Learning Google Classroom: Poetry Analysis (normally priced at $2.97). In this mini unit, students will learn about the history of the Black Lives Matter movement and the way that the word “boy” has been problematic for African American males. They'll also explore both the written version and performance of the wonderful poem “not an elegy for Mike Brown” by Danez Smith, a masterful, award-winning contemporary poet and performer. Rounding out the unit are an opinion piece and an inspiring TED Talk. As they work through the multiple sources, students will question what they have been taught and learn about the complexities of issues around racism, identity, and violence. You can view the full-priced version of this resource by clicking .
Trail of Tears Unit | Native American Literature | Indian Removal Unit (normally priced at $3.97). This innovative unit will take your students beyond a general understanding of the events of the 1830s to a more comprehensive understanding of why history matters. Students will start out by exploring two engaging videos: one on the history of the Trail of Tears and one on why treaties still matter today. Then, they’ll move on to a creative exploration of some first-hand accounts and historical documents from the period. After that, they’ll work to analyze Linda Hogan’s prose writing on the removal as well as Hogan’s poem “The Trail of Tears: Our Removal.” Finally, your classes will research which tribe was formerly on the land where they are living today so that they can more fully understand the sacrifices that have enabled them to live on that land. You can view the full-priced version of the resource by clicking .