Expanding definitions of poetry

Day 1’s lesson was a discussion on students’ initial definitions of poetry, using a Play-doh and FlipGrid mash up (see my previous post)

Today, I wanted them to reflect on, add on to, and hopefully gain some new perceptions of what poetry is and what it can accomplish.

Over the course of two 50-minute class periods, I showed them a Playlist of Poems. Some are personal favorites, and all will be used in some way later in the semester as part of a poetry prompt.

The directions were:

We will watch a string of poems. After each video, write down your thoughts in regards to:

  • What is the poem about?
  • How does the poem make you feel, or what does it make you think?
  • What words stood out to you in the poem and why?
  • Overall thoughts on the poem / reading / performance / video?
  • If you had to assign a COLOR to the poem, which color would it be and why?


In between each video, I set a 3-minute timer for students to free-write their thoughts using the above questions as a guide. They couldn’t stop writing. If they got stuck and had a writer’s block moment, they could simply copy down the questions if they needed to. The point was to keep the pen moving, and hopefully, the thoughts. After each free-write, I asked for a quick show of hands. Well, thumbs actually. Thumbs up if you liked the poem, sideways thumb for ‘it’s okay,’ and thumbs down if they didn’t like it. This was mostly for my own curiosity and trying to gauge their likes and dislikes when it comes to poetry.

Here is the list of videos I showed them:

After the last free-write, students found a partner or two and discussed the following questions in a small group:

  • What new ideas would you add to how you define poetry after watching these videos and hearing these poems?
  • Are these poems like other poems you have read before? Which ones? Explain similarities and/or differences to poems you have read before.
  • What did you learn about poetry from watching these?
  • Which poem stood out the most to you and why? Favorite and least favorite poem?

As a culmination, we came together as a whole class to discuss our opinions, thoughts, and any new perceptions about poetry. Students had all kinds of varying opinions about each poem, which I love because, even though they differed, they all felt comfortable sharing their thoughts and had a voice in the discussion.

And I am happy to report that there were way more thumbs up than sideways thumbs or thumbs down.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s