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Poetry: Together and in Motion

Context for this Lesson

Teaching Strategies: 
School District: 
School or Organization: 

TOPIC: Use of personal experience and similie in poetry


FOCUS QUESTIONS:How can community building and students lived experience help create a potent jumping off point for individual poetry? How can DBI  create an engaging lesson to support the use of poetry and more specifically similie in figurative language? 

MATERIALS: Colored pencils/markers or oil pastels, pencils, paper for drawing, lined paper or notebooks for writing lines of poetry, index cards


TEKS 7.8A English Language Arts and Writing, Grade 7

Determine the figurative meaning of phrases and analyze how an author for language creates imagery appeals to the senses and suggests moods.


Write poems uses poetic techniques and figurative language

Theatre TEKS

(7.1) Perception.

The student develops concepts about self, human relationships, and the environment, using elements of drama and conventions of theatre.

(C) create expressive and rhythmic movements;


Instant Replay – “My name is, and I like…”                                  

All players stand in a circle facing each other. One person starts by saying their name and what they like along with creating a gesture to accompany it. For instance, a player may say, “My name is Izzy and I like dancing” and then do a dance step. That’s the signal for everyone else to do exactly the same thing she did in if an “instant replay” of Izzy’s mini- performance. Proceed around the circle until everyone has a turn to perform and view their Instant Replay.


Make sure to choose motions that everyone will be able to repeat.

Try to copy the movements as precisely as you can!

Reflection on the strategy/participation

  • What went well? What did we do that worked in this game today?

(Notice: Clear gestures – gestures that expressed these hobbies or interests, also notice gestures that were creative, where did students push themselves past their place of comfort?)

  • These are some things that make this game work. What are some other things that make this game work? How might those things be useful in our classroom work today?

(Notice: When you see students supporting each others hobbies through movement aka: teamwork, students working together, being helpful)

Transition: We’re going to come back to using movement to express the ideas that we explore in our writing a little later, but for now let’s look at how we can explore our lives using a quick drawing activity.


Life Map                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

In this next segment we’re going to work on a drawing activity. In this activity we are going to map out moments from our childhood.

Let’s look at this map for a moment. What are some of the images you see? What do they mean? I’m going to give you one minute to turn to the person sitting next to you and discuss what you notice on this map. Places, animals, paths, names of rivers, a compass etc…, have someone scribe. We’re going to keep these ideas in mind as we create a short map of our life so far. We’re going to have a path that connects points of interest. These points are going to be events and places that were significant to us.

Think about important landmarks in your life, important moments, and places, how will you represent them?

To the best of your ability please put these events/places in chronological order. Choose 4 events or places to represent. Feel free to use symbols. But try to make your symbols unique to you, for example if you are drawing a moment like when your baby sister was born you might draw a baby, but you could also draw an object that represents a moment that you shared with them. What’s a memory that you shared that is really special to you? What object might represent that memory? Or where were you and how can you show that using an image of one thing that was there.

That being said, we have 20 minutes so you’ll have about 4 minutes for each symbol. Sketch it out and have fun with it. We have art supplies here for you to share. If you run out of time, think about colors that might represent those moments, colors that represent happiness or sadness.


Now, looking at your life maps I’d like you to share your favorite place with a partner at your table. If you used a symbol, explain the significance of that symbol. Tell them the details, what does that place look like? What do you like to do in that place? Are there other people who like to go there?

When you are finished: Thank your partner.

Transition: Now we are going to take our favorite place and explore it through writing.

“I used to be as ____ as _____ , but now I am…”                                   

We just worked on a life map, who you are now and who you were once. What is different about your life? I’d like you to think about how you were different 5, even 2 years ago. We are going to begin writing a poem. Each line of the poem begins, “I used to be, but now I am…” I’d like you to write three lines that begin with that prompt, “I used to be, but now I am…” You have 5 minutes.

*Walk around the room and assist students as needed. If some students write 3, and others only come up with one that is ok. Depending on where the student is at, get them to include figurative language. Instead of laying this out as a goal in the beginning of the instructional time, go around tell them one or two at a time and then help them as needed. The goal is for each student to have one line that they can use, ideally using similie. Have them change the line to “ I used to be as _____ as _____ but now I am ______.” For example, if they write: “I used to be scared on the first day of school, now I’m confident,” have them go back to their life map, are there any details that they drew that can help guide them towards specificity? If not ask guiding questions like, what was that like when you were scared? Is there something that reminds you of being scared that you could compare yourself to?

Then have students write their favorite line on an index card.

Choose your favorite line from the ones that you wrote, write it on an index card. Thinking about the activity we did in the beginning of class, we are going to use movement to enhance our poetry to make it really come to life.

I’d like you to take your favorite line and come up with a gesture to represent that line. I’ll give you an example: ___________________________ (Use an example from one of the students writing). You may stand up for this activity but stay right next to your seat. You have just about 2 mins. I will be coming around to help you. Give me a thumbs up when you are done.

Transition: We are now going to turn these lines into a poem.

Devising a group poem                                                                                              

Divide students into groups of 3. Have them teach each other their gestures to one another. Then based on their line, they will write one line together, that line sounds like “We used to be, but now we are…” If they are finished early, encourage them to use figurative language, focusing on simile. If they are struggling for time the goal is just to get them to learn each other’s gestures and write the one line together. Wherever they are standing we will perform out for one another.

I will divide you into groups of three. In these groups you are going to read each other your lines and teach each other your gestures or statues. You do not have to memorize each other’s lines, just each others gestures or statues. When you are finished give me a thumbs up and I will give you your next task.

*When they give the thumbs up have them write the line together.

Transition: We are going to share our group poems one group at a time. Notice what you hear in each group. What similarities and differences do you notice? I’m going to ask the group to say three or four words about each piece. Remember those things you did well in ’Instant Replay’, like supporting each other and being helpful, when you are an audience for a group.


Show each poem and take only one minute to reflect on each one:

What do you appreciate about this piece? OR What stands out to you?



  • What did you enjoy about any of the activities we did today?
  • How did it feel to write about your memories after you had already drawn some images?
  • Did creating a statue of that line of poetry bring anything new to your understanding of those events/memories?
  • Was there a step in there that was particularly hard, or fun for you?

Thank you so much for all of your hard work today and sharing your writing with me!

Extensions/Applications : 

Peformances can be worked on for longer/other class periods and students can write more lines of poetry with the same prompt. These lines can have more gestures, or even frozen statues. Students can also practice saying their lines with greater emphasis on voice and diction.