Monday, April 1, 2013

Lesson-Up Express: April Excursions- Poetry in Motion

Lesson-Up Express:  April Excursion-Poetry in Motion

In his poem, The Wasteland, T.S. Eliot said, “April is the cruelest month…”.  Considering the fickleness of the weather- bone-chilling sleet one day, sunbathing warmth the next- it’s no wonder peoples’ moods swing from gloom to gaiety.

Maybe April was chosen as National Poetry Month because of it quirkiness.  Strong emotions create word pictures and poems are the Kodak moments of writing.

 April is the perfect month for teachers and students to take an excursion on the Lesson-Up Express. And since Monday is literature day on this blog, today is the perfect time to combine both lessons. (Note: Teacher Notes and Printable handouts for students are on pages 4-8.)
This posting offers two Tickets:

1. A Literary Connections Tour:
This ticket offers students the chance to find poems, poets and lyrics that fit the themes of any novel or narrative non-fiction book that they are studying.  To complete this trip, students will work individually or in teacher-chosen groups to analyze a poem (teacher or student selected).  See the Teacher Notes for finding poems that connect with story themes.
Stops on this tour include:
A. Atmosphere Alley: During this stop, students will study the poet’s choice of words-picked to create a specific mood/tone.  They must make five points about how the tone of the poem relates to the mood in the novel/book they are studying.
B. Poetry Junction: Here students analyze how the author of the book used some of the same poetic elements in the story that the poet did in the poem.  Students are to search for possibilities such as: rhyme, rhythm, onomatopoeia, repetition, alliteration, assonance, parallelism or any more that the teacher requires.  To leave this stop, students must find five examples of poetic elements used in the story, copy them down, include the page numbers and explain why each example is illustrative of that element.
C. Imagery Island: Students will search the story to find five examples each of imagery and/or figures of speech in the poem and in the story. They should concentrate on looking for: similes, metaphors, sensory imagery and personification. See the students’ activity handout to see the directions and the format.
D. Theme Mountain: on this, the next to the last stop on the tour, students will compare the theme of the poem with that of the story they are studying. They are to separately write down the primary theme in the story and in the poem in sentence form and then explain how they compare and/or contrast with each other in regard to their messages.
E. Project Pass: On this final leg of this tour, students must prepare the final draft that includes the analytic results of each of their stops on the tour in a poster or in a travel brochure format.
a. Poster: This must include images for each stop which may be hand drawn or cut from magazines or copied from the Internet. If they are copied from the Internet, students must be sure to use images that are free and that are in the public domain. A Google search for: free public domain (name the topic) images or clipart should bring them a huge variety of choices. Whichever method that they choose, students must cite their sources. The images and the written material from each of the stops (A to D) must fill one side of a large piece of poster board or foam core board because this project will be displayed in class.
b. Travel Brochure: if students select this option, they can use Publisher’s brochure option or choose a program of their choice to create a brochure with both images and the results of stops A to D.

2. A Poetry Camp Trip
If students choose this ticket, they will create five original poems from the types written on the tree branches on the cover of this offering and/or types they choose with the teacher’s approval.
A. Each poem must follow the criteria for that particular type of poem. If the poem has no minimum or maximum line requirement, the teacher must set these limits. Students will have to research these poem types if they are not familiar with them. Examples for the Personal Poem and the Rhyming Couplet are given in the Teacher Notes.
B. Student poets must create a literary magazine for their poems. This must include: a cover page, the poems, and a graphic (original or found {this must follow the same criteria as written in choice a. Poster}) for each poem.

3. Poetry Performance Buffet:
All students will present either the results of their Literary Connections Tour or two poems from their Poetry Camp Trip at the Poetry Performance Buffet at the end of the month. Teachers need to decide how many class periods they will need so each student can perform. In order to make this event fun for all and stress-free for the teacher, he/she should create student committees for:

A. Programs/Publicity-Note: once every student knows what he/she will be performing, the student must inform the people who are designing the program of their choice(s). Teachers must set a due date for this information: Student name, type of piece(s) and title(s). Anyone who has not given their information to the committee leaders by the due date will not be included in the program. Publicity should include posters for the classroom and for the halls (if teachers want to publicize this activity) and any other school media venues i.e. daily announcements.

B. Food/Beverages (if permitted). Note: This works best if each student signs up to bring something and the committee leaders coordinate the set-up (paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils), clean-up (remember garbage bags) and the food.

C. Decorations – Note: strands of lights and battery-run candles are terrific to create a mood as are inexpensive placemats from the Dollar Store (or a similar establishment). Maybe teachers can buy anything needed if the school will cover the cost, or each student could contribute a set amount ($1.00?) or bring an item from home. The committee leaders need to coordinate this as well as the clean-up.

D. Technology-Note: this is for video-taping the event, microphones-if needed- background music, etc. Committee leaders need to coordinate this with the teacher.

E. Invitations-Note: The committee leaders must work with the teacher to decide who to invite to the event: parents, administrators, other classes, etc., or if they want to keep this contained to the class. If the former, they might want to choose a larger venue i.e. the library/media center during the class period(s) or after school, and confirm if food will even be allowed there. The committee leaders will coordinate the design and printing (school computers?) of the invitations. Teachers must remind students to include: the date, time, who, what, when, where on the invitation. Idea: Maybe the students can create an E-Vite from a free program, and with teacher approval.

April should be the Coolest month, not the Cruelest month.  The Lesson-Up Express:  April Excursions Poetry in Motion in conjunction with National Poetry Month should guarantee an exciting and engaging thirty days.
You can download this activity from my store:

Happy Teaching,


  1. Hi! I found you through Manic Monday. Your freebie is very creative, and I love the name of your blog! :)

  2. Thank you for both compliments. This April Excursions activity was really fun to create. I've successfully used the material in a number of lessons, but decided to combine it all under a new title.
    Happy Teaching,