Shel Silverstein Read Aloud Lesson Plan
NAME: Erica Leima DATE 10/26/10
Grade Level: 5th
Subject: Language Arts: Response & Analyses
Structural Features of Literature 3.1- Identify and analyze the characteristics of poetry
Communication of Meaning in Dance 2.5 - Convey a wide range of feeling and expression
through gestures, posture, and movement.
Purpose of the lesson:
• My primary purpose is to make students more interested in poetry and the way they
can adjust how to communicate.
• Students will be exposed to poetry written by Shel Silverstein. This poetry will
serve as a platform for developing aural presentation skills and an interest in poetry.
Students will learn to use body language, facial expressions, acting out, gestures,
tone, volume, and pacing to communicate.
• All too often poetry is over-analyzed, this lesson is an attempt at making poetry
more interactive by giving students artistic freedom to present the poetry in a unique
but effective way.
Links to Prior Knowledge or Experience:
(Background knowledge/skills gained outside school or in school).
Students may or may not have read poems by Shel Silverstein. There have already been
poems presented to the class through the Open Court lessons. Exposure to the pacing and
intonation of poetry may carry over for some students who have started writing their own
rap music. Some of the similarities between rap and poetry have been linked in prior
classes but it may be beneficial to engage students by reiterating some of the connections.
For example, both use very specific and intentional language to get messages across and
both use rhythm and rhyme to emphasize, link, and create ideas and feelings in the
• Students will be able to identify some purposes of poetry and various feelings that
poetry can invoke
• Students will be able to present a poem, adjusting or amplifying the poems meaning
through changes in tone, volume and/or pace relative to how the student normally
• Students will show comprehension of the effectiveness of presenting poetry through
critiquing their peer’s animated presentations
• Formative assessment will take place through observing student participation in a
group discussion about characteristics of poetry and the effects of changing tone,
volume and pace. Ranges of feedback from students will dictate which areas need
more modeling than others.
• Students will be evaluated on their ability to perform their poem, with an emphasis
on their ability to adjust their tone, volume, pace, and body language while reading
• Students will write critiques of each other’s presentations. These critiques will
include the student’s opinion of what other students did effectively and in-
effectively in their presentations. The critiques will show a student’s comprehension
of various techniques used in performing poetry while keeping the students in the
audience engaged & thinking critically.
Scaffolds for English learners & Children with Special Needs:
• The activity will be thoroughly modeled for the entire class, in explicitly mentioned
ineffective ways and in effective ways.
• Expectations of an effective performance will be discussed and made visible.
• Poems will be selected and ranged within appropriate reading abilities
• Students will be peer-sharing as they develop and practice their poems, during this
time peers will be able to help one another and the teacher can assist groups in need
Target Vocabulary, Language Function, Language Demands
• Rhythm – connect with pacing of the lines and stanzas
• Rhyme – emphasize that rhyme does not always have to be present in poetry but that
Shel’s poems often rhyme. The patterns of rhyming words are important for the
pacing of the poems
• Tone - types and emotional effects (cheerful, sad, depressed, sneaky, humorous,
suggestive, scared, etc – the feelings that the author wants the reader/listener to
• Volume - appropriate in-class ranges and emotional effects (rising volume might
lead to suspense, softening might imply secrecy, etc.)
• Pacing - ranges and emotional effects (fast, medium, slow; anxiety, cheerfulness,
laziness, relaxed, etc.)
• Body language – familiar expressions and exaggerations of feelings through posture,
gestures and facial expressions without speaking
• The poem “Snowman” pg. 65 of Where the Side Walk Ends to demonstrate
• Any poetry book by Shel Silverstein
• A variety of as many poems as students in the class, printed out - one copy for the
student, one for the teacher to follow along during presentations.
INSTRUCTION: Procedures & Activity/Activities: (Time: 80-95 min)
Motivate, Model, Practice the skill or practice to gain deeper understanding of a concept.
1) Instruct: Introduce Shel Silverstein – present Shel to the class, can be as simple as
his description on the front sleeve of his books. Introduce some of the illustrations
and read some of the shorter poems from the book casually, it is important to have at
least one actual book in the classroom to read from. This allows the students to get
engaged and, more importantly, see how they can access the poems outside of this
assignment. (2 min)
2) Instruct & Openly Discuss: Move into the topic of poetry, building off of previous
lessons where students have already defined different parameters of poetry, different
forms and any rules (or lack of rules). Remind students of a previous conversations
relating poetry (especially aurally presented poetry) with rap. Guide students toward
discussing what emotions they’ve witnessed feeling when reading and listening to
poetry and rap. Prompt the students to explore ideas about how those emotions are
created (8 min)
3) Teach: Draw 4 columns on the front board labeling them “tone”, “volume”, “pace”,
“body language” (This can be done prior to class). First discuss tone, defining it as
the emotional state that the author tries to invoke in the reader. (1 min)
4) Model: Perform the first 2 lines of the poem “Snowman” twice. First read them with
a tone of pride, pause and ask students to label the emotional tone (provide options
such as “happy”, “sad”, “prideful”, “angry”). Then perform the same 2 lines with a
tone of sadness, allow the students to label this second tone. Collaborate with the
students to come up with a few different tones that a poem could be presented in and
how those tones affect the meaning even though the words of the poem remain the
same. (5 min)
5) Teach: Move on to the “volume” column, connecting different emotions with
6) Model: Talk to the class in a booming voice, asking how it felt, (“HOW DOES IT
MAKE YOU FEEL WHEN IT SEEMS LIKE I’M YELLING AT YOU?”) then
switch to a mousy-whisper, still prompting for student participation in regards to
ideas about volume changing feelings. Teach the potential of emphasizing a point
by only changing the volume on a single word – read the first 2 sentences again but
raise the volume on the word “first” to emphasize it. See what the student’s
responses are and add them to the column. (2 min)
7) Teach: Discuss the pacing of poems and readings. Define pacing as the rate that you
communicate the words, this rate (fast, slow, medium) helps engage the reader and
also contribute to the tone of the poem. Show the lines and stanzas and explain that
these are important and intentionally done by the author because that is how they
think the reader should interpret and pace the poem. (1 min)
8) Model: Read the first 8 lines of Snowman with a very fast pace, hardly pausing for
words and not at all for ends of lines. Pause and tell the class that you’ll finish this
stanza with pacing, do so reading lines 7, 8, 9, 10 with dramatic pausing to
emphasize pace (starting on line 7, despite having already read it, will preserve
comprehension of the stanza) (2 min)
9) Model & Practice: Read the entire 2nd stanza with a dramatic “snoody” and “rude”
tone, emphasizing a steady pace and change of volume when the robin speaks. Ask
the students to describe the tone, volume, pacing and emotions of the second stanza.
10) Teach: Body language – Introduce and define body language, teach the students that
it is one of the most effective ways of communicating the emotions and feelings of
any inter-personal encounter.
11) Model: display different emotions through facial features, gestures and posture.
Have students label the emotions connected to the actions and add both to the Body
Language column. Read the last stanza creating a sense of pride and doubt
appropriately and asking the students to label these emotions. (6 min)
12) Direct: Tell students that they will each get an opportunity to present a wonderful
poem by Shel too. They will each receive an individual poem but they must practice
performing it with a partner because each student will perform the poem in front of
the class. Explain to the students that the expectations are that students will: a)
decide what emotions they want the audience to feel while they read the poem based
on the poems content, b) Instill these emotions in the audience by adjusting the way
they read the poem. Remind them that the presenter can adjust their tone, pace,
volume and body language (point to the examples in the 4 columns that the students
just came up with), and c) be attentive and act as “critical listeners” while their peers
present. Which means that students in the audience will describe the variance in the
presenter’s tone, pace, volume and body language (This aspect of the assessment
will show if students who are poor performers still comprehended the content
covered and can evaluate or assess the content visible in their peer’s presentations).
13) Peer-Share: Pass out the various pre-assigned poems and allow the students to work
with one partner (peer-share) to read, develop, and practice their presentation of the
poem. Working with a friend is ok since reasonable levels of silliness and fun are a
huge part of ensuring participation for all students. Remind the students to
concentrate on the emotion that they want to convey. Then direct students to focus
on different ways to adjust their pace, tone and volume in order to successfully
present that emotion to an audience. (15 min)
14) Teacher during peer-share time: circulate classroom, providing scaffolding to
students moving off task. Guide students to notice the structural aspects of how the
poem is written and the very intentional words chosen when trying to decide how to
present the poems.
15) Assessment: Students present poetry. (Rec: Have a structured way to move through
the class efficiently). Student’s poems will take anywhere from 30 seconds to 1
minute to present. Critics should be allowed an additional 30-sec to analyze the
presenter. Prior to starting remind the students that the quality of the critiques is just
as important as each individual’s presentation. (30-45 min)
Have class clap for all students who performed. Reiterate the uniqueness in poetry’s ability
to get ideas across with such specific and intentional language and how the aural
presentation can emphasize those ideas and emotions.
(Time: 8 min )
Reflections: Students: (Time: 10 min)
At the bottom of the critiques the students will be asked to communicate how they liked
presenting poetry and what they found most interesting when watching their peers present.
Observe students who seem to have become more interested or less interested in the lesson.
Guide the more interested students towards more challenging poets and the less interested
students towards poetry that they might be able to relate to either by gender, race or s.e.s.