Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

If You're a Bird, I'm a Bird


K20 Center, Brad Rogers | Published: May 31st, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 8th, 9th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course
  • Time Frame Time Frame 1-2 class period(s)
  • Duration More 90 minutes


Students will use close reading strategies to analyze symbolism in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." The class will begin by observing symbols being displayed on the board, transition into recognizing the main symbol in the poem, and finally create a symbolic poem of their own. Through collaborative exercises, students will eventually scaffold knowledge of symbolism and connect the literary device to their personal life. While this lesson is currently aligned only to 8th grade standards, it would be appropriate to teach in grades 8 through 9, adjusting standards as needed.

Essential Question(s)

What can poetry tell us about culture?



Students will complete quickwrite over symbol (of their choosing) being displayed on the board.


Students will read "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe and use the CER strategy as well as the 4-2-1 strategy to analyze the poem.


Students will share findings with their peers.


Students will create free verse poem featuring a symbol that represents them.


Students will share free verse poems aloud. Peers will evaluate poems that are shared via rubric.


  • Laptop Computer (if available)

  • Literature Book with "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe

  • The Raven Handout (can be shared via PDF on laptop or printed)

  • C.E.R Graphic Organizer (offered as both a PDF or a Word Doc)

  • Notebook/Copy Paper

  • Pens/Pencils


To begin, find an image of a human skull and a human heart. When students enter the classroom, direct students' attention to a projector or SMARTboard which will be displaying the images of a skull and a heart. Allow the students 3-5 minutes to complete a quickwrite over the prompt "What these parts of human anatomy represent to you?" Once the 3-5 minutes are up, the students will partner up and share, with their partner, their meaning behind the symbol. Ask for a few other groups to share their quickwrites aloud.


Transitioning to the poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe, students will read the poem on their own. After students students have completed the reading, students participate in a 4-2-1 strategy. Individually, a student will identify what they feel are the 4 most important sentences, then they will pair up with a partner and complete the 4-2-1 strategy.

For the 4-2-1 strategy, students will:

1) Pair up and compare their 4 most important sentences identified in the poem. 2) Narrow each of their lists down to 2 sentences. 3) Agree on what they feel is the most important sentence regarding the raven and what it represents in the poem.

After they have narrowed it down to the most significant sentence that focuses on the raven itself and write them down using the CER strategy.

For the CER strategy, students will:

  1. Make a claim regarding the sentence they have chosen.

  2. Use evidence as to why this sentence is vital to the poem.

  3. Explain the reasoning behind its importance.


After groups have completed the 4-2-1 and C.E.R. strategies, they will then select one spokesperson to explain why they believe Poe chose a raven as a symbol and what they feel it represents to Poe himself.


After each group has shared, students will create their own poem with symbolism. Walk them through the following steps to help scaffold the writing of the poem:

  1. Draw a symbol that represents them personally.

  2. Write a paragraph that explains why this symbol represents them.

  3. Turn their paragraph into a free verse poem that is no more than 5 sentences.


Once the students have completed their own free verse poem, ask for a few volunteers to share their poems aloud. As the students are sharing their poems, their peers will evaluate it by completing the 3-2-1 strategy.

For the 3-2-1 strategy, students will:

  1. Write down 3 things they liked about the poem.

  2. Construct 2 questions for the speaker.

  3. Offer 1 suggestion regards to something they would change in the poem.