Grade: Senior
Subject: Literature

#303. Writing a poem

Literature, level: Senior
Posted by Roger Kalin (
Goshen (NY) Central High School, Goshen, NY
Materials Required: Black board, pen and paper
Activity Time: One class period
Concepts Taught: Creative writing, peotry appreciation, literary techniques

1. Have the students imagine themselves someplace -- the beach, a mountain top, a city street -- anywhere.
2. Have them write two lines beginning with the words "I see", and then state what they see. (ex: I see traffic lights; I see taxis")
3. Then write two lines beginning with "I hear" (I hear sirens; I hear engines); then two lines beginning "I smell".
Cover each of the five senses this way.
4. The last line should begin "I feel ...", and state how the scene makes them feel. ("I feel lonely and afraid")
5. You now have an eleven line poem. Return to each line, delete the "I see"s, the "I hear"s, etc. Add adjectives and adverbs.
6. Return to each line. Add similes and metaphors.
7. Return to each line. Add personification.
8. Add rhyme and meter. Add alliteration and assonance.

Do one on the board as a class. Then let the kids do their own as HW. Don't force them to do all of the steps above, but urge them to do as many as they can. The results are true poetry which will astonish you and the kids, and which should give the students an appreciation of the artistry of good poetry. Share the poems with the class. They can also include illustrations that reflect the content of the poems. By all means, post the poems on the wall and in the hallway.