April is one of my favorite months. My tulips start to bud, the weather is warmer, the grass is greener, and the air is fresher. My daughter was also born in April, which really tipped the scales to being one of my top three favorite months. In addition, April is National Poetry Month!
Spring is such a fantastic time to teach poetry. There are so many spring poems. Students can go outside to write their own poems and glean inspiration from the beautiful weather. As the school year winds down, poetry is an excellent type of literature that doesn’t have to be taken so seriously as the silliness starts to take hold of our students. Nonetheless, if you would like your students to get to the heart of a poem, we have rounded out 5 easy ways to teach poem analysis through acronyms, journal responses, and art.
The first three ways refer to acronyms. I have used these acronyms for upper elementary to middle school students to teach basic poem analysis.
1. SOAP Method of Poem Analysis
Using the acronym of SOAP, students read a poem two-three times and then write down the various main aspects of the poem. SOAP stands for Speaker, Occasion, Audience, and Purpose.
S: Students write down who is speaking or telling the poem, whether it’s the author or narrator, a character, or an object from the poem.
O: Next, students think about the Occasion or what is occurring in the poem. The occasion is referring to the setting such as time and place. How does what’s going on affect the poem?
A: The Audience refers to whom the poem was written. Was the intended audience children of all ages, adults, or everyone? Take it a step further and write how we know who the audience probably is.
P: Purpose refers to what you believe the author’s purpose was when writing this poem. Was it supposed to be comical? Was there an overall meaning the writer wanted us to learn? What do we gain from reading this poem?
2. TATTLE Method of Poem Analysis
Using the acronym TATTLE (and what student doesn’t know this word), students read a poem and write down the various aspects that TATTLE refers to. TATTLE means Title, Author, Tone, Theme, Language, and Explanation.
T: Students write the title of the poem, normally at the top of the page.
A: The author of the poem is written beneath the title.
T: Students write down the tone of the poem. What is the author’s attitude toward the message being conveyed? Is the author conveying a funny or serious tone? Is the tone educational, meaning the author is trying to teach us something? Tone reveals the author’s feelings toward his writing.
T: Students explore the theme of the poem. What was the universal theme or message the author wanted us to learn? Was it kindness, honesty, or being respectful? What can we glean from this poem?
L: Language: Did this poem rhyme or was it unrhymed? If it rhymed, what was the rhyme scheme? Was this a long poem or a short poem? How many stanzas were there and what lines are in each stanza? Why do you think the author made these particular language choices for this poem?
E: Lastly, E is for explanation and this is a little more free-flowing. Students explain any connections they make with the poem.
3. TWIST Method of Poem Analysis
Using the acronym TWIST, students analyze the Tone, Word Choice, Imagery, Style, and Theme.
T for Tone refers to the author’s attitude toward what they’re writing. Are they trying to convey a humorous tone or a serious one?
W for Word Choice refers to the author’s usage of words. Were the words chosen meant to convey fear? Therefore, the word choice is troubling. Were the words chosen meant to be sad? Therefore, the word choice is sorrowful.
I is for Imagery. What images did this poem show in your mind?
S is for Style. Did the poem rhyme or was it unrhymed? What is the length of the poem? How many stanzas?
T is for Theme. What is the message or overall meaning the author wants us to learn?
4. Poem Response Journals
Sometimes acronyms and what each letter requires can be daunting. Perhaps you teach lower elementary students and want something a bit simpler.
A poem response journal is just perfect as one of the 5 easy ways to teach poem analysis. Students read the poem two to three times, and answer some questions about each poem such as: Did you like this poem? Why or why not? How do you connect to this poem? Explain. Explain how this poem was meant to be funny or serious.
Students use poem response journals to connect with poems in a more flexible way, determining if they liked it, how they related to it, and any other specific questions relating to the poem.
Students can also take it a step further and become inspired by the poems they read by writing their own poems in their journals. For instance, after reading Sick by Shel Silverstein, a student can write their own version of a poem about being sick.
We have a free mini-poem response journal available here. It has five poems that were already chosen, and it contains specific response questions for students to answer. Grab yours today.
5. Incorporating Art Method of Poem Analysis
Poetry evokes imagery. After explaining to students how imagery creates pictures in our heads, students will read a poem two to three times. Lastly, the teacher reads the poem aloud as the students close their eyes and imagine what they hear.
I recommend that each student have an art pad with blank paper inside. Students write the title and author at the top of their blank paper and draw the images they see in their minds as they read the poem or heard it being read aloud.
Put on some nice, relaxing music as the students draw their imagery. This type of visual response makes the poem more personal to students and makes them actively engaged in their poem reading. Good readers visualize as they read and this act of visualizing helps create strong readers. Additionally, drawing what you read helps you dive into all the details of the poem without glossing over the main parts.
By utilizing 5 easy ways to teach poem analysis through acronyms, journal responses, and art, students can analyze poetry in meaningful ways that promote writing, various literary elements, and even imagery.