How to Teach Poetry Analysis

How to Teach Poetry Analysis

Analyzing poetry can be a scary thing, for both teacher and student. There are so many terms to know and understand, and so few words in a poem!

Surprisingly, I’ve found that many teachers avoid teaching poetry because it can be intimidating, but I’ve also found that many students actually enjoy it! And the students who say they don’t like poetry usually end up liking it more than they thought!

Teaching Poetry Analysis: Let’s Break it Down

To help demystify analyzing poetry, I created a fun and engaging Poetry Analysis Mini Flipbook that is perfect for secondary-level English Language Arts students!

With this activity, students work on pages within the workbook to identify, quote, and explain various poetic devices and elements. You’ll get 7 tabs to assemble including: about the poem, structure, word choice (and tone), imagery, figurative language, theme, and analysis.
It is designed to not only be hands-on, but very visual as well. There are plenty of places for students to add color and personalize it with their own creative designs! I have found that adding these elements helps students stay engaged with the task and offers opportunities for them to take “brain breaks” and still work on the project at the same time.

How to Use in the Classroom

One way I use this flipbook in my own classroom is I pick a poem to read as a class. Each day, we focus on one element from the flipbook to complete. I’ve found that spacing it out like this offers plenty of time for me to reteach and guide students.

If your students need more guidance and scaffolding, pair them up and have them work on the same poem together. Or, if you're looking for a more independent practice activity, have students choose between one of 5 poems from a list of your choosing, and let them select one to analyze on their own!

Additional Tip for Teaching Poetry Analysis

Have students cut out and assemble the book first before completing it. Each page has instructions for what students need to do. You could have students write directly into the boxes, but I like to have them complete their work on a Post-It note first so that I may circulate about the room checking their work before they make it permanent on the flipbook. This offers me the opportunity to clarify anything or reteach any concepts.

Where to Find Poems for Your Next Poetry Teaching Unit

Your district’s text likely has several poems to choose from, but if you’re not limited to just the textbook, I would highly recommend checking out Poetry Foundation!

The website offers thousands of poems to read and analyze! Some from long-time famous poets and some from contemporary poets as well! The website includes featured poems, but also offers visitors the opportunity to browse poems by subject or even school of thought (think: Renaissance poets).

Some things they’ve added within the recent past are articles, essays, interviews, podcasts, and even videos! (I have found that watching a poet read their own work significantly enhances how a student understands and experiences it.)

I hope you find this activity enjoyable and successful in your own classroom! Be sure to check out all of the other poetry resources I have to offer!

Additional Poetry Analysis Teaching Resources 

You might notice that your students need a bit more help with poetry analysis terms. That is where my Academic Vocabulary: Words about Poetry teaching resource comes into play! This resource includes 25 poetry-related vocabulary words that will help students gain a better understanding of poetry analysis. This vocabulary teaching unit is the perfect addition to any poetry unit. You can also check out this blog post about five poetry activities to try this year!

Looking for more? Check out these other resources!
Poetry Analysis Unit with Sticky Notes: Activities, Writing, and PowerPoint
Poetry Unit for Secondary ELA
How to Teach Poetry Analysis


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