Lesson Idea: How to Write a Poem

This is a lesson idea for teaching poetry through the use of music. I used this lesson with 4th grade students but it could easily be adapted for older or younger grades.

How does it work?

During our poetry unit, I taught the students about different types of figurative language that can be used to enhance their writing. I picked a fews short poems from authors like Shel Silverstein, Edward Lear, and Jacqueline Woodson and had my students find specific examples of figurative language in their works.

Once they had a good idea of how to spot different types of figurative language, we wrote a poem together using examples of what they had learned. As teachers often do, I wrote the poem ahead of time but made my students feel involved in the writing of the poem. The lyrics are below:

What is needed?

– Computers or iPads

– GarageBand

How to Write a Poem 

By Nathan Wolkenhauer

While I sit and think I’ve got a great idea,

I’ll express myself with an onomatopoeia.

Smash, boom, flick is what I’ll say.

Then I’ll mix it up with a simile.

I’ll take my words and write them down,

like a stick of chalk drawn on the ground.

I’ll read my poem; express my voice,

with vivid lines and fine word choice.

I’ll leave you thirsty wanting more,

til’ I fill your glass with a metaphor.

I’ll exaggerate my point to be,

a great use of hyperbole.

But before these pages lines are full,

clap and count your syllables.

One two three, One two one.

If all works out your poem is done.

With the poem written, I was ready to model GarageBand for the students and make the poem into a recorded song. I showed them how to create a project, how to use loops and “smart” instruments, and how to record audio. We created a rap song with the How to Write a Poem lyrics that can be heard below.

Finally, I put my students into pairs and let them write their own poems/songs. I required them to use and identify at least 3 different types of figurative language as done in the example. They then used GarageBand to create their own songs. It was incredible! The creativity and willingness to use technology from students always impresses me.

Please feel free to use this lesson plan and song and, of course, add, adapt, and share anything you have done!

Nate Wolkenhauer is a veteran elementary educator with experience teaching in Florida and Pennsylvania. While teaching, he focused on student engagement and technology integration in the classroom and was recognized as one of the top educators in the state of Florida by the Florida Department of Education. As the current Assistant Director of FCIT, he works to build curriculum and programs promoting technology integration in K-12 classrooms and informal education environments.

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