Vocabulary Quiz and Poetry Test Day

Today we decided to “kill two birds with one stone” as the saying goes.  The students first started with their vocabulary quiz over the lesson 12 words from this week.  Once finished, each student then began to work on their poetry tests.


  • Read for 60 minutes.
  • Secure a copy of either To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee or Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred B. Taylor in time for Monday’s class.


2.13.14 Poetry and Vocabulary Assessment Day

Lesson 12 Vocabulary Quiz


Now that you have finished your vocabulary quiz, you may now begin on your poetry test below.

Poetry Unit Test


Once you have completed both assessments, you may either:

No matter what you choose, YOU MUST REMAIN SILENT until all students have finished both assessments.

Poetry Presentations

Today was a simple day in class.  After having some time to work on their poems, the students who did not present yesterday, shared their work in class.

Here is a link to some of the poems the students produced.

Once everyone was done, we had a brief discussion about the poetry writing process, the unit overall, and the parts the students enjoyed most.  The students then wrote thank you notes to one of their colleagues, thanking them for having shared their poem in class.




Rap as Poetry

While many would disagree, many more would agree that rap, as a form of song lyrics, are analogous to poems as well.  In fact, an article on The Daily Beast was titled saying that “Americans Have Never Loved Poetry More–But They Call It Rap.”  In essence, that was the slant of today’s lesson.  Outlets such as The American Conservative and NPR are writing articles and blog posts asking exactly that.  Then again, educators such as myself and those at UPenn and Harvard have been using rap and song lyrics as evidence of modern pop cultural poetry for years.  I have found that this makes literature more interesting and relevant to students whilst showing examples of how assonance, end rhyme, and imagery are used outside of novels.  In essence, literature (and learning opportunities) are all around us!

After showing the students a brief clip where rapper Jay-Z is discussing how rap lyrics are akin to poetry, the students and I discussed a few examples of rap and analyzed as we had poems.




Sonnets and "Oh Captain! My Captain!"

In our two-week trek through poetry, we decided to “kick it old school” by looking at sonnets.  Though there are two different types of sonnets, the English and Italian, we focused on three of Shakespeare’s most notable sonnets: #30, #33, and #73.

As we discussed these three sonnets, the students constructed a Circle Map to describe this form of poetry.

We then switched gears and looked at Walt Whitman’s iconic poem “O Captain! My Captain!”  As I read stanza by stanza, I then asked the students to analyze what was being said in each stanza.  Once we finished the poem I showed them a rap version that brought this post-Civil War elegy to life with a modern twist.




Poetry Workshop Day

After our weekly quiz over the Lesson 11 words from Vocabulary from Classical Roots, Book C, the students had time to work on their own poetry as they will be submitting and presenting their best work next week.   Once everyone had finished, we then watched a clip from the 2010 documentary entitled “Louder than a Bomb.”  This documentary followed several high schools and some of their key students as they prepared for an annual youth poetry slam competition in Chicago.

As a side note, “Louder than a Bomb” is currently on Netflix (or can be purchased or rented from Amazon.com) and students who would like additional credit can watch it, rewrite and respond to five of the discussion questions here (with specific examples from the film) and have it replace their lowest quiz grade.   The discussion questions were actually written by one of the students featured in the film, Adam Gottleib.

If additional time permitted, we took the rest of class to workshop and then share the poetry that was written.


  • Read for at least 60 minutes.
  • Continue working on poetry.
  • If possible, purchase/rent/borrow a copy of either Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry  by Mildred B. Taylor or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
    • We will begin our novel study on these books on Monday, February 16th.  You only need to choose one of the two books to read.
  • EXTRA CREDIT: Watch “Louder than a Bomb.”  Then choose five of the discussion questions here and thoughtfully respond to them.  You should submit your response either in paper form or via KidBlog by Monday, February 16th.  If submitted by this deadline, your lowest quiz grade will be replaced with your grade from this extra credit assignment.


More Poetry Analysis

Our “Bar-A-Day” experiment has been going so well!  There are some students who do not typically tend to share who are fighting for the chance to share their work and it truly warms my heart.  After today’s post Warm-Up sharing session, we took a look at analyzing some more poetry starting with this poem entitled “Like Totally, You Know?” by Taylor Mali.

Thereafter, the students had the opportunity to look at the following poems:

They then highlighted, analyzed, and shared their thoughts on the poems.  The best and strongest-supported analyses (with evidence from the poems being analyzed) were rewarded with REP bucks.


  • „Read for 30 minutes.
  • „Study tomorrow’s vocabulary quiz on Friday.
    • You can review at the words here.
  • „Respond to at least two of your classmates’ “If I Were President” speech on KidBlog (Due by Monday).
  • „Begin posting your poem on to KidBlog.


Analyzing Poetry

After finishing up the notes we started yesterday, the students and I began analyzing poetry, using the elements identified within our notes.

We first started with “Invictus” by William Earnest Henley.

Invictus Analysis


We then moved on to “Sonnet 43” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Sonnet 43 Analysis

Thereafter, we looked at “The Rose” by E.E. Cummings.

E.E.Cummings The Rose

We closed class with our “Summary Circle” where the students had an additional opportunity to share their poetry with their classmates as an eager audience.  If time permitted (and the students wanted to hear it), I shared a poem I wrote as a part of our “Bar-A-Day” activity.


  • „Read for 30 minutes.
  • „Study for vocabulary quiz on Friday.
  • „Respond to at least two of your classmates’ “If I Were President” speech on KidBlog (Due by Monday).
  • „Begin posting your poem on to KidBlog.