Lesson Plans & Class Schedule


Poetry Out Loud is not intended to replace classroom activities like creative writing. In fact, the two naturally complement each other. For that reason, we have created a number of optional writing activities and lesson plans for teachers. 

Do you have some great Poetry Out Loud lesson plans? Share your ideas with us!

For further ideas on poetry instruction, visit the Poetry Foundation’s Learning Lab. 


Poems Put to Use (PDF)
Students write about poems being put to use and, in the process, imagine the practical advantages of poem memorization and recitation. 

The Tabloid Ballad (PDF)
This lesson teaches students about the typical metrical forms and narrative structure of the ballad by having them write ballads based on comic, even outrageous source material.

The Tone Map (PDF)
As students learn to name the tones of voice that the poem moves through, they learn to describe mixed emotions and to distinguish subtle shifts in tone and mood. 
Tone Map Terms (PDF)

Speaking of Tough Texts (PDF)
Teaching “Level of Difficulty” through close reading, reflection, and performance. 
Speaking of Tough Texts Worksheet (PDF)

Poetry, Celebrity, and the Power of Connotation (PDF)
Students learn to recognize some of the most common strategies that poets use when writing about historical figures. With these in mind, students then hunt up and present other poems about historical figures.

Golden Shovel (PDF)
Students learn to read and write poems through a new form.

Lesson Plans by Eileen Murphy that complement Poetry Out Loud

Sonic Patterns: Exploring Poetic Techniques Through Close Reading
Students use the idea of a composed memory and their knowledge of sonic patterns to draft, revise, and share their own original text.

Speaking Poetry: Exploring Sonic Patterns Through Performance
Students engage in a variety of vocal activities and performance techniques based on word sounds and then prepare a recitation for small group performances and compare their interpretative choices as part of the reflection process.



Week 1

•  Have students explore the anthologies and choose poems to memorize.

     (1 full class session)

•  Read and discuss some of the poems in class.

     (2–3 full class sessions)

•  Model effective and ineffective recitation practices for the students.

     (1 full class session)


Week 2

•  Have students practice their poems with different partners each day.

They should also work on their memorization and performance outside of school. Students should have their poems completely memorized and be able to recite without using a printed copy by the end of the week.

     (15 minutes per day)

•  Hold practice contests.

Break up the class into groups. Have 1 student at a time perform for the rest of the group, 
who act as judges. Discuss the scoring choices with them. Encourage discussion about how the student interpreted and presented the poem.

     (1 full class session)

•  Implement the lesson plans and writing exercises.

While reserving a portion of each class period for recitation practice, you may offer a more complete poetry unit by using the lesson plans provided in this Teacher’s Guide or on the website.

     (1–5 full class sessions, optional)

•  Hold the classroom recitation contests at the end of the week. 

Bear in mind that it takes an average of 4 or 5 minutes to recite a poem and judge the recitation. Teachers should structure the contest in a way that best fits their schedules.

     (1–2 full class sessions)


Week 3

     •     Hold the school-wide recitation contest at the end of the week.

Winners of the classroom contests will prepare 2 or 3 poems for recitation and will compete in the school-wide competition at the end of this week. Ideally, the school-wide competition will take place at a campus assembly, thus enhancing the entire student body’s exposure to poetry and giving the contestants a larger audience. Students who have competed before 
big groups will be more comfortable with the audiences at the state competitions and 
National Finals.

     (1–2 hours; school assembly)