21st Century Lesson Plan


Lesson Overview:

Title:  Sarah Cynthia Sylivia Stout and Other Poetic Devices

Description:  Poetry Mini-Unit

Subject:  English Language Arts

Grade Level:  Seven

Suggested Time:  Five Class Periods at 45 minutes each (One Week)

Common Core ELA Standards:  RL.7.1, RI.7.2, RL.7.5, RL.7.10; W7.1, W7.4, W.7.9; L.7.1, L.7.2, L.7.5, L.7.6


Computers with Internet Access

Video Recorder (Flip Camera, Smart Phone, etc.)

Projector with Screen

Writing Tools (Highlighters, colored pens, etc.)

Text Evidence Chart

Shel Silverstein’s Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out

Editing Checklist

Purpose:  The purpose of this lesson is to first and foremost create a positive attitude and love for poetry for all students.  The focus of this lesson is to review the process at which students complete the items and encourage positive research practices, collaboration with peers, critical evaluation of poetry, and understanding of underlying themes of poetry created with various poetic devices.

Create:  Students will create several items throughout the course of this mini-unit.  The students will create a summary in the form of a tweet that they will post on Twitter.  They will create a blog post on the class wiki that answers two text-dependent questions provided by the teacher. Students are asked to complete a Culminating Writing Activity identifying the underlying message within this poem.  The students will create a presentation in the form of a Prezi, VoiceThread, or Glogster with set criteria including their Culminating Writing Activity, video, research of poetic devices along with examples, etc.

Assessment:  Students will be assessed on the presentation of their project using a teacher-created presentation rubric along with formative evaluation throughout the process of their “Create” activities.

Instructional Sequence: 


Students will access a copy of Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out by Shel Silverstein.  Students will read the poem aloud with a partner so they can hear the rhyme scheme.  Students create a one-sentence summary in 140 characters or less, of what happens in the poem.  The students will share their one-sentence summaries on Twitter using the #SCSS (Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout).  Once this task has been completed, the teacher will pull of the Twitter Feed of #SCSS and discuss the students’ summaries as a class.  As the teacher leads the discussion, he/she will explain to the students that while this poem seems very simple, there is an underlying message the author is trying to convey to the reader, also known as a theme (Accessing students’ prior knowledge from unit on Story Elements).

As the students re-read the poem for a second read, now aware of an underlying message, the teacher will facilitate students in marking up the text by highlighting/underlining/circling the examples of sensory details, and figurative language, such as exaggeration, alliteration, and rhyme.  If a digital copy is available, the students may use the highlighter tool in different colors as well as adding margin notes to label each poetic device.

Students, with the teacher, re-read the text for a third time.  A list of text dependent questions will be given to each student.  The students are then asked to answer two text dependent questions on the class Wiki in the form of a blog.


Teacher introduces the following prompt for their Culminating Writing Task.

Shel Silverstein embeds a message within this simple, comedic poem.  Identify the author’s message and use evidence from the poem that supports your analysis.  Explain how the author uses literary devices (exaggeration, alliteration, sensory details) to convey humor in his message to the audience. 

After the teacher models an example of evidence from the poem and inputting the information into the chart, the students complete an evidence chart during the pre-writing stage of the writing process.  The students may also refer back to the blog of text dependent questions as a form of notes.  Teacher may also provide the students with example pieces and strong thesis statements.

Students will comprise a solid thesis after compilation of evidence in their chart and continue on with their rough draft.


Students will use Word to type a written copy of their Culminating Writing Activity rough draft.  Students will peer edit using an editing checklist and correct any errors in their typed copy.


Teacher will introduce the final create piece associated with this mini-unit.  Students will work in groups and choose a presentation tool, VoiceThread or Prezi to create their project.  Within that presentation they should have explanations and examples of the poetic devices mentioned in class.  They are encouraged to use sound, YouTube videos, scanned illustrations, web links, etc. embedded in their presentation.  They also must read aloud their Culminating Writing piece and embed that in their presentation.  Students will be allowed two days for completing this task, but depending on student learning levels, students may require more time.

Once the presentations are completed, students may upload to Dropbox that way other students may have access to their presentations for reference throughout continuance of the unit.  Students will present their presentations to the class while their peers, along with the teacher assesses each groups project.


My 21st Century Lesson Plan is a plan that I’ve taken different pieces from lessons plans I’ve created in the past to piece together a more exciting and enhanced version including a variety of technology tools and an assortment of “create” pieces.  Anyone that has taught an English Language Arts class knows that poetry is very difficult to teach.  The female students absolutely love the poetry unit, while it’s a struggle for the males to even get past the fact that they are reading and writing poetry.  I knew that I needed to spice up my poetry unit and found the following lesson to do just that.  As the students go on their weeklong poetry journey, they analyze poetry, identify poetic devices, and develop a love for poetry through the use of exciting tech tools.  My hope is that not only will the students learn something, but it will develop a love for poetry and literature as a whole.

I found the article Need a Job?  Invent It especially intriguing when author Thomas L. Friedman interviewed Tony Wagner, Harvard education specialist.  “The capacity to innovate- the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life- and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration are far more important that academic knowledge.”  This statement is what I based my enhanced lesson plan on.  Is poetry and poetic devices essential for the work place or college readiness?  Not necessarily, but the analytical thought process, the ability to create innovative projects, and using collaboration and communication in a positive way to bring about learning is essential to be “innovation ready” as also stated in Friedman’s article.

My 21st Century Lesson Plan touches all of Renee Hobbs’ “five communication competencies as fundamental literacy practices that are now part of learning across all subject areas” (p. 12).  Students will access information with the use of technology tools that is relevant and appropriate to their project.  Not only will the students analyze, another of Hobbs’ core competencies, they will analyze the message purpose within poetry.  The create portion of the lesson promotes creativity and individuality, while also incorporating collaboration and communication amongst peers.  Throughout the classroom discussion and group work portion of the lesson plan, students are encouraged to communicate their thoughts openly, while also listening to other thoughts, opinions, and points of view from their peers.  During the final create activity, students are allowed to choose which tech tool they would like to produce their final poetry project, Prezi or VoiceThread.  The teacher does set some criteria for the contents of their project, but students are encouraged to think creatively and add to their projects to appeal to their audience.  The theme chosen and discussed with the poetry piece applies to the challenges of daily life and conflicts they likely face in their own lives, applying to Hobbs’ fourth competency.

Through the duration of the assignment, students are asked to analyze their own work, and the work of their peers giving meaningful and valuable feedback.  They are encouraged to collaborate.  This new style of learning is innovative and beneficial due in part to the students learning subjects aligned with national standards, but doing so in a way that is developing a “new culture of learning” (Thomas & Brown, 2011) that incorporate Hobbs’ core competencies of accessing, analyzing, creating, reflecting, and acting (Hobbs).  Integration of these technologies only enhance the overall learning of all, students and teachers alike.


Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.

Friedman, T. (n.d.). Need a Job? Invent It – NYTimes.com. The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Retrieved October 14, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/opinion/sunday/friedman-need-a-job-invent-it.html?smid=pl-share&_r=0

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?. –

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