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1) Introduction

November 19, 2011

In 2005, I took a college course in Introduction to Education.  The following is an adaptation of a lesson plan which I developed for that course.  If you are a teacher, you may freely use this lesson plan in your classroom.  If you want to print and/or redistribute it in any form, however, you may do so provided you give credit to Natalia J. Garland and a link or reference to this blog.  Since I resided in Arizona at the time, I used the Arizona educational standards.  The lesson focuses on Imagist poetry, using “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” as a model for student work, and is intended for grade-10 English students.

2) Arizona State Standards for Grade Level 10

November 19, 2011

Strand 1: Writing Process

Concept 1: Prewriting

PO 1: Generate ideas through brainstorming, notes, discussion
PO 2: Purpose: to communicate
PO 4: Establish a controlling idea
PO 5: Organizational strategy: outline, mapping

Concept 2: Drafting

PO 1: Prewriting plan
PO 2: Sequence ideas into meaningful order

Concept 3: Revising

PO 1: Evaluate use of ideas, organization, word choice
PO 2: Add details
PO 4: Rearrange words and sentences to clarify meaning
PO 7: Peer review
PO 8: Use thesaurus and dictionary

Concept 4: Editing

PO 4: Use peer review to edit the draft

Strand 2: Writing Components

Concept 1: Ideas and Content

PO 1: Narrow the focus
PO 2: Identify purpose and audience
PO 3: Select details
PO 4: Explain topic
PO 5: Original perspective and insights

Concept 2: Organization

PO 1: Structure for a poem and a creative story
PO 2: Include a strong beginning
PO 3: Use details to support main idea
PO 4: Use effective transitions
PO 6: Create a resolution or closure

Concept 3: Voice

PO 1: Show awareness of audience through word choice
PO 2: Convey a sense of identity through topic
PO 4: Use expressive language
PO 5: Use language appropriate to topic, purpose and audience

Concept 4: Word Choice

PO 2: Use words that are original, varied, and natural
PO 3: Use words that evoke clear images
PO 4: Use figurative language

Concept 5: Sentence Fluency 

PO 2: Vary sentence length

Concept 6: Conventions

PO 2: Use commas correctly
PO 7: Use apostrophes correctly
PO 9: Spell words correctly
PO 10: Use paragraph breaks
PO 11: Demonstrate control of:
(a) parts of speech
(b) verb forms and tenses
(c) subject/verb agreement
(d) pronoun/antecedent agreement
(f) comparative and superlative degrees of adjectives

Strand 3: Writing Applications

Concept 1: Expressive

PO 1: Compose a creative story and poem that
(a) describe a sequence of events
(b) set scenes and incidents in specific times and places
(c) describe sights, sounds, or smells
(f) use figurative language

Strand 1: Reading Process

Concept 4: Vocabulary

PO 1: Determine meaning of vocabulary
PO 3: Determine how meaning is affected by word choice
PO 5: Replace words and phrases by using thesaurus and dictionary

Concept 5: Fluency

PO 1: Read from the genre of poetry

Concept 6: Comprehension Strategies

PO 4: Connect poem to personal experience
PO 5: Apply knowledge of sequence-time order to aid comprehension

Strand 2: Comprehending Literary Text

Concept 1: Elements of Literature

PO 1: Analyze theme and setting
PO 2: Analyze figurative language
PO 3: Compare and contrast theme in a creative story and a poem
PO 4: Identify how imagery sets the tone and advances the theme

Concept 2: Historical and Cultural Aspects of Literature

PO 3: Recognize how stories and poetry can present similar themes

3) Multiple Intelligences

November 19, 2011

1) Verbal-Linguistic

(a) brainstorming ideas
(b) reading a poem
(c) writing a creative story and a poem
(d) defining difficult vocabulary
(e) reviewing a poem from memory

 2) Interpersonal

(a) classroom brainstorming of ideas
(b) reading out loud together
(c) classroom discussion of a poem
(d) using language for expressive and original communication

 3) Intrapersonal

(a) interpreting the meaning of a poem
(b) using critical thinking to write creatively
(c) using language to develop identity
(d) applying prior knowledge to create a story and a poem
(e) developing capacity to give and receive positive suggestions

4) Spatial

(a) viewing a drawing as a prompt for brainstorming
(b) illustrating a poem

4) Materials and Anticipatory Set

November 19, 2011


Paper, pen and pencil, journals, whiteboard, markers, colored pencils, crayons

Anticipatory Set

Drawing of a blackbird on a whiteboard square
Drawing will be turned sideways and upside down, like a Rorschach blot 
Students will be asked to describe what they see

5) Objectives

November 19, 2011

1) To be able to look at the world in different ways
2) To find meaning in everyday objects and events
3) To gain an understanding of imagist poetry
4) To learn how to read a difficult poem
5) To compose a poem
6) To compose a creative story
7) To use prior knowledge in the writing process,
      and to connect this knowledge to the lesson on imagist poetry
8 ) To understand the difference between poetry writing and story writing
9) To interact with others students in peer review
10) To interact with other students in classroom discussion
11) To illustrate a poem

6) Input, Modeling, Practice

November 19, 2011


1) Teacher gives brief lecture on imagist poetry
2) Teacher gives brief summary of biography of the poet
3) Teacher facilitates review of literary elements


1) Teacher will share her own creative story
2) Teacher will share her own poem

Check for Understanding

1) Peer review of creative story
2) Students take notes on peer review
3) Students review poem from memory
4) Teacher repeats reading of poem
5) Peer review on second draft of poem

Guided Practice

1) Teacher/peer conferencing on mapping/outlines
2) Teacher/peer conferencing on first draft of original poem

Independent Practice

1) Homework: second draft of poem
2) Final draft of poem
3) Illustration of poem

7) Lesson Content

November 19, 2011

Lesson plan was adapted from the Seaver Unit website:
Graduate School of Education, Alumni Pages, University of Pennsylvania,
[WWW document] URL

This lesson is based on the following poem:

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
by Wallace Stevens

Among twenty snowy mountains
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadows of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds? 
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.