Lesson Plan:

Determining the Theme of a Poem

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March 11, 2015
by Brandy Metzger
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March 11, 2015
by Brandy Metzger

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to analyze the events in the poem to determine the overall theme. Students will be able to summarize a poem.


Introduction (20 minutes)

  1. Begin the lesson by showing students copies of The Scream, The Bathers, The Bath and Romeo and Juliet.
  2. Ask students to write down or orally answer what they feel is one word that tells what each piece is about.
  3. Read Hug O’ War by Shel Silverstein to the class.
  4. As a class, talk about the words in the poem that indicate the theme of love/friendship: hugs, giggles, kisses, grins, and cuddles.
  5. Emphasize that careful reading of a poem will help to determine theme.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (5 minutes)

  • Define the word theme as the subject of a piece of writing or art.

Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (35 minutes)

  • Pass out copies of the poem The Cold Within to the class.
  • Read the poem aloud and discuss new vocabulary words: happenstance, birch, tattered, idle, bespoke, spite, forlorn
  • Direct students to look back at stanza one and guide them to re-state the stanza in their own words
  • Divide the class into 6 equal groups and assign each group one stanza (2-7). Task each team’s students with re-writing the stanza in their own words.
  • Circulate to all groups and help those that need assistance with the task.
  • Once all groups have re-written their stanzas, the poem will be read again using the student’s re-writes.
  • Kick-start a class discussion on what the theme of the poem might be. Possible answers include: prejudice, hatred, greed. It is important that all answers that can be supported by events in the poem be allowed.

Independent Working Time (15 minutes)

  • Ask students to write a summary of the poem and include what they feel the theme is.



  • Enrichment: Ask struggling students to choose their theme and highlight things in the poem that prove their idea. If students seem stuck, provide an example as scaffolding to get them started.
  • Support: Have advanced students write their own poem with the same theme, as an extension activity.

Technology Integration

  • Art pieces can be displayed on an interactive white board.


Assessment (5 minutes)

  • Pass out sticky notes to students and ask them to write a definition of theme. Students will write their name on the note and turn it into the teacher as an exit card.

Review and Closing (10 minutes)

  • Ask students what are some things that can help them remember what “theme” means. Allow students to define the term in their own words and generate an anchor chart to display in the classroom.

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