Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Diggin' Deeper: Poetry Made Relevant

Poetry and Poetic Devices

K20 Center, Jane Baber, Tara Dyson, Gage Jeter | Published: May 26th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course A.P. Language and Composition, A.P. Literature and Composition, American Literature, British Literature, Composition, Creative Writing, World Literature
  • Time Frame Time Frame 2-3 class period(s)
  • Duration More 120 minutes


Whether they realize it or not, many students love poetry and use it every day. Introducing poetry in a relevant way can positively engage students in the composition of poetry. In this lesson, students will explore song lyrics as they engage in the analysis and creation of poetry. While this lesson is currently aligned only to 8th grade standards, it would be appropriate to teach in grades 7th through 12th, adjusting standards as necessary.

Essential Question(s)

How is poetry relevant in life today?



Students listen and respond to three songs from various genres of music.


Students explore how the music and/or lyrics impacted their opinion of the music.


Students explain their understanding of the potency of words, rhythm, and the use of poetic devices.


Students use their favorite song within the lesson to analyze its lyrical appeal.


Students reflect on their understanding of poetry by creating their own poetry.


  • A sound system to play the music

  • Paper, pens

  • Highlighters (blue, green, yellow, pink)

  • Poetry Cafe Sample Guidelines (attached; optional)

  • Quick Write (attached; one per student)

  • "Blowin' In The Wind" Lyrics (attached; one per student)

  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • 'Blowin' In The Wind' Still Asks The Hard Questions article (optional; linked; one per student)

  • I Think/We Think (attached; one per student)


Display slide 3 and share the essential questions with your students: How is poetry relevant in life today?

Display slide 4. To begin this lesson, ask the class for a show of hands as to who listens to music regularly. (Likely, many or most students will raise their hands.) Engage in a brief discussion about why students listen to music. List student responses on slide 4. Use student conversations as a segue into the Engage activity.

Display slide 5 and share the lesson objective with your students:

  • Students will explore song lyrics.

  • Students will analyze poetry recognizing poetic devices and format.

  • Students will write poetry utilizing poetic devices and format.

Display slide 6 and pass out the Quick Write handout to each student. Students should listen to the three songs of different genres as they are played aloud. Give students about two minutes to listen to each song, and instruct them to use the Quick Write strategy and write about what they feel or notice about the songs. Instruct them to write the entire time that the song plays. There is no right or wrong in this activity. Students should be given the freedom to write creatively without restriction. This allows autonomy in their selective writing processes.

Display slide 7 and play Symphony No. 9 - Beethoven.

Display slide 8 and play The Rolling Stones - Just Like A Rolling Stone.

Display slide 9 and play Pharrell Williams - Happy.


Display slide 10. In this portion of the lesson, students explore how the music and/or words impacted their opinion of the music. Instruct the students to look at what they wrote during the songs and see which words or phrases answer the following questions:

  • What does it sound like?

  • What emotions does it evoke? Why?

  • What does it make you think of? Why?

  • (Optional question) Does it bring back any memories? If so, what?

Ask students to use the Think, Pair, Share strategy to first think about the questions and highlight any answers to each question.

Display slide 11. Ask students to discuss their results with an Elbow Partner. This activity engages students in a collaborative effort while also providing insight into their understanding of the impact of music. Instruct students to consider their commonalities, differences, varying emotional connotations, and how the words influenced their choices.

After allowing students to share with their partners for about ten minutes, you might facilitate a class discussion to glean understanding about student responses. Consider not only differences but also similarities in their answers.

Bring this activity back to the first discussion. Did the words or the music influence students' responses? Some students might discuss how the music itself, rather than the words, impacted their emotions, whereas other students might acknowledge the influence of the words on their understanding of the song.


Display slide 12. Now that students have engaged and explored music and poetry on their own, you can explain the force behind the words. Using the lyrics to "Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan, guide students toward an understanding of the words.

Give each student a copy of the attached Blowin' in the Wind handout and display the lyrics on slide 12 for the group to see.

Allow students to read the lyrics, and then engage them in an I Think/We Think activity to find the meaning behind the words.

Display slide 13 and pass out the attached I Think/We Think handout.

Using the following questions on slide 13, have students fill in their "I Think" column to explain the poet's usage of words, poetic devices, and rhythm.

  1. What did the poet mean when he said "the answer is blowin' in the wind"?

  2. What does the use of repetition do for the reader?

  3. What is the overall message of the poem?

Now, have students move into pairs or small groups to take part in the "We Think" portion of the activity. This gives students the opportunity to justify their answers to the questions as they share with their partner or group.

Discuss the students' answers, and then tie into the lesson the significance of the song as found in the article 'Blowin' in the wind' still asks the hard questions.


Display slide 14 and inform your students that they are going to research their own songs. Have students write down the lyrics to their favorite songs. While they are writing, allow them to use the song's format to engage in understanding about the poetic form of it. Songs are written so very differently than formal writing. Refer to the meter and rhyme scheme specifically. Perhaps include a focus on the misuse or lack of punctuation in the lyrics to show the freedom that poetry and songs allow in writing.

Next, students should identify the various poetic devices used by the songwriter. Have students label their songs with poetic devices, noting every time they are used. Song lyrics typically possess the following: rhyme, repetition, assonance, consonance, alliteration, imagery, and/or rhythm.

Display slide 16 and revisit the essential question: How is poetry relevant today? Students might consider the connection between song lyrics and poetry and discuss the relevance to their own lives.


Display slide 17 and inform your students that they should now construct a poem with a format similar to that of their favorite songs. They can follow the same rhythm or rhyme scheme as the song to help them along.

Likewise, they must use the literary devices that the songwriter did in their favorite song, though not necessarily in the same places.

Here's the twist: Students must choose one of their responses to the pre-writing activity (the listening to the three songs quick write) as their subject matter for their new poems. This requirement allows them to tie into that first activity and also provides a launching pad for their ideas.

A great way to keep students engaged while giving you the opportunity to evaluate their poetry is to allow students to participate in a "Poetry Cafe" where they read aloud their original poems on slide 18. Refer to the attached Poetry Cafe attachment for an example of guidelines for this activity.


  • Alanheatwave95. (2013, October 15). The Rolling Stones - Just Like A Rolling Stone [FULL Version] (with Lyrics) [Video]. YouTube.