Lesson Plan for Narrative
Poems - An Introduction to Poetry
Narrative poetry is being used to introduce ninth grade students
to poetry because of its storytelling format. Students will hopefully
feel more comfortable about the genre when they see it can be used in
some of the same ways as prose and that some types of poetry have few if
any rules about form.
1. Students will identify previously learned literary devices in the
poem, including point of view, plot, setting, simile, metaphor, rhyme,
alliteration, repetition, symbolism, foreshadowing, and onomatopoeia.
2. Students will be able to discuss the plot of the poem using stanza
and line numbers.
3. Students will journal based on one
of several reader response and analytical prompts based on the poem
presented in class.
4. Students will begin to appreciate the
value of listening to and reading poetry aloud.
1.B.4b Analyze, interpret and compare a variety of texts for
purpose, structure, content, detail, and effect.
Use questions and predictions to guide reading.
Analyze how authors and illustrators use text and art to express and
emphasize their ideas
Analyze and evaluate the effective use of literary techniques in classic
and contem≠porary literature representing a variety of forms and media.
2.A.4d Describe the influence of the authorís language structure
and word choice to convey the authorís viewpoint.
4.A.4b Apply listening skills in practical settings
Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes - copied with space for marginal notes
- Begin class by asking
students what they know about poetry. Take a handful of answers before
transitioning into explanation. Emphasize to students that not all
poems rhyme or follow strict formats, and today we are going to look
at a type of poem that will seem familiar to them. For today, I do not
want them to take notes, but to simply listen to and read the poem and
participate in the discussion around it. I will, be tracking who
participates to award participation points.
- Pass out copies of
Alfred Noyes' "The Highwayman."
Explain/review what a stanza is, and ask students to read the first
two stanzas to themselves. When finished, read those stanzas aloud to
them. Discuss the differences in reading the poem silently versus
orally. Hopefully they will see that the poem is more vivid when read
- Allow students to take turns reading the poem
out loud. Do not pause for questions until poem is complete, but leave
about 30 seconds between stanzas and encourage students to make
marginal notes for the discussion to follow.
- Begin discussion with students of the poem.
Ask them what they thought it was about, how it made them feel, and
what was the general mood. Then together, look for examples of:
Discuss with students how these devices made the poem's story more
interesting to them.
- Present the following questions on the
1. Why do you think this poem might be more easily understood when
read aloud? What things did you notice about the spoken language
of the poem?
2. The landlord's daughter is named Bess and the ostler is named Tim.
Why do you think the highwayman is not given a name in the poem?
3. The colors red and black are used and repeated in the poem. What do
you think they might symbolize?
4. Bess makes what we might call "the ultimate sacrifice" for her
love. What would you have done in her place and why?
- Give students the rest of the class period to
complete journal entries based on one of these prompts. If time
allows, several students will have the chance to share their entries,
and/or I will share mine.
Because this lesson is meant to be a fun and somewhat informal
introduction to poetry, measurable assessment will be limited. I will
certainly decipher from student reactions and participation just how
much they are recalling the literary terms we discuss. On a more formal
basis, I will evaluate the students' comprehension of the poem's plot
and themes from their journal entries.
After reviewing Dr. Bonadonna's comments about not beginning a
lesson with too many questions, I had to go back and check my
introduction to make sure I wasn't doing just that. I decided to leave
things as they are, because in most classes, there are a few students
who like to show what they know and I like to give that chance up front.
By only pausing to take a few answers, I am not putting too much
pressure on them before transitioning into my own teaching. Most
importantly in this lesson is to let the poem be the center. It's a
great story with beautiful language and will hopefully capture their
After all we hear about active reading, I also second guess my choice of
reading the poem straight through without pausing for questions. In this
case, I really want the students to feel the suspense build. Allowing
them limited time to make their own notes is my compromise between these