A page from the "Poetry through the Ages" exhibit...

font size:  a  a  a
Level: Middle School-High School-College

This could work for college students, but the steps would be entirely different, given the structures and meeting times of college courses.

Time for Activity:

Give students one to two weeks to complete this assignment, but call attention to it every day during class.

Materials Needed: Computers and access to "Poetry through the Ages;" poetry anthologies that include examples of the form choosen; notebooks or journals.


To introduce a form students have not yet experienced or studied, and to successfully show each of them how to write the form using multimedia. This lesson can be applied to any creative writing, English, or literature curriculum; it can also serve as the basis for a term paper.

Action Steps:

  1. Introduce the form by viewing "Poetry through the Ages" exhibit.
  2. Ask students to study examples. Discuss the structure, rhyme, and metrical schemes and how this attention to form coordinates with the meaning of the poem.
  3. Ask students to read sample poems aloud.
  4. Ask students to further research (via Google or a library) at least one poet that is cited in the exhibit, to read one or two of his or her poems, and to report on how he or she used the form to present the poem and its meaning.
  5. Give your students one or two weeks to write at least one poem in this form. First, challenge them to free-write about something that is of central importance in their lives. This will help them gather material they’ll need in order to write a poem, and then dedicate 10 minutes at the end of every class period so they can work this pre-writing material into the assigned structure. Towards the end of the week, have students read their poems-in-progress aloud and note where the structural elements could be modified in order to dampen the form’s constraint. After using a few sample lines to exemplify how one can modify sentence structure, give them the weekend to finalize their work, and hold a reading of the finalized poems during the next class period.
  6. Have students read their poems to the class, unless they are too personal - in which case, have them read to you privately.