The Current Logo

Lesson 3

Written by Venneasha Davis
November 09, 2017

Objective: Students will be able to be exposed to another medium of written expression;learn the rules and conventions of poetry, including figurative language, metaphor, simile, symbolism, and point-of-view;learn five strategies for analyzing poetry; and interpret meaning in poetry.

Time: 60 min


Definitions of literary terms:

  • Rhyme – The correspondence of sounds, particularly at the end of words. Examples: Fair and Square, Hocus-Pocus, Fender Bender
  • Alliteration – The repetition of sounds at the beginning of words or syllables. Examples: White Water, Pretty Please, Five Fat Frogs Feeling Fairly Feverish Frequently Fall Flat…Hip Hop.
  • Onomatopoeia – The use of words whose sounds suggest their meaning. Examples: Bow Wow, Swoosh, Beep
  • Simile – A phrase that uses the words like or as to describe someone or something by comparing it with someone or something else that is similar. Examples: She is like a rose,As brave as a lion
  • Metaphor – The definition of a metaphor is a word or phrase used to compare two unlike objects, ideas, thoughts or feelings. Examples: All the worlds a stage, He is the black sheep of the family”
  • Repetition – Repetition consists of repeating a word, phrase, or sentence, and is common in both poetry and prose. It is a rhetorical technique to add emphasis, unity, and/or power.
  • Personification – Giving human traits to objects or ideas. Examples:Water on the lake shivers, The sunlight danced, The streets are calling me
  • Hyperbole – Exaggerating to show strong feelings or affects. Examples: I will love you forever, My house is a million miles away, She’d kill me
  • Symbolism: is the practice or art of using an object or a word to represent an abstract idea.
  • Tone: is the attitude you feel in it; the writer’s attitude toward the subject or audience
  • Mood: literary element that evokes certain feelings or vibes in readers through words and descriptions.


1. Begin with another Spoken Word selection

2. Identify the rules and conventions of poetry. Introduce students to the role of literary techniques like figurative language, hyperbole, simile, symbolism, metaphor etc.

3. Introduce and discuss the following five strategies for reading and analyzing poetry:

  • Read the poem more than once.
  • Define any words that you do not understand.
  • Look for emotions in the poem (happiness, sadness, etc.).
  • Look for symbols. What do they symbolize?
  • Make connections between the poems and the other works of literature that we have read.
  • Together read the poem, “Always There Are the Children,” by Nikki Giovanni

 5.  Identify the literary techniques that Giovanni uses in her writing.

 6.  Have students take notes.

 7. Divide the class up into five groups. Give each group the poem “Equality” by Maya Angelou.  Instruct the groups to analyze Angelou’s poem together. Have students answer the questions:

  • What message does this poem convey to you?
  • What comparisons does the author make? How are the things being compared alike?
  • What figurative language is used and in what line?
  • After you read the poem, how does it make you feel? What causes that feeling?
  • Does the poem change at any point? If so, where and how? What effect does this change have?
  • Why would the poet choose that title for the poem?
  • Does the Author’s tone change throughout this piece?
  • What if the poem were told from a different point of view?

And here are some questions that are more specifically about words and language:

  • What word surprises you? Confuses you? Interests you?
  • Is there a word that seems like it isn’t needed or doesn’t fit?
  • What word is most important in this poem?
  • Which words may have multiple meanings?

8.  As a class, discuss Angelou’s poem and have each group present 2-3 answers to the questions above