Poetry, Poets, and Becoming Writers | EL Education Curriculum

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Poetry, Poets, and Becoming Writers

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This module uses literature and informational text to introduce students to what inspires people to write. It is intentionally designed to encourage students to embrace a love of literacy and writing. In Unit 1, students begin to build their close reading skills by reading the novel in verse Love That Dog by Sharon Creech and analyzing how the main character, Jack, feels in response to events that happen in the story. Alongside Love That Dog, students closely read and analyze the poems Jack reads and describes, including "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. They analyze the poems to determine a theme and to identify characteristics of poetry in order to effectively summarize the poems.

In the first half of Unit 2, students finish reading Love That Dog and plan and write an informative paragraph about what inspires Jack to write poetry. In the second half of the unit, they read A River of Words by Jen Bryant and learn about poet William Carlos Williams, again thinking about what inspired this poet to write. Then, in expert groups, students study a poet of their choice and write a four-paragraph essay about what inspired their poet to write poetry.

Finally, in Unit 3, students move from considering what has inspired the poets they have been reading about to write poetry, to thinking about what inspires them to write poetry. They begin the unit by writing original poems, focusing on word and phrase choice and adding punctuation for effect. In the second half of the unit, students write a presentation explaining why they wrote their original poem and where you can see evidence of this in their poem. In the second half of the unit, students also practice reading new poems aloud for fluency in preparation for reading their poems aloud for the performance task. For the performance task at the end of the unit, students participate in a poetry presentation in which they read aloud an original poem and then explain to the audience, with the use of visuals and evidence from the poem, why they were inspired to write their original poem. This task centers on CCSS ELA Standards SL.4.4 and SL.4.5.

Guiding Questions and Big Ideas

  • What makes a poem a poem?
    • Poetry has characteristics that are unique and distinct from prose.
  • What inspires writers to write poetry?
    • Writers draw inspiration from many places, including the work of other writers and their own lives.

The Four Ts

  • Topic: Poetry, Poets, and Becoming Writers
  • Task: Poetry Presentation
  • Targets (standards explicitly taught and assessed): SL.4.4, SL.4.5
  • Text: Love That Dog and A River of Words

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the literacy block. But the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies content that may align to additional teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below.

College, Career, and Civic Life C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards:

  • D2.Civ.7.3-5: Apply civic virtues and democratic principles in school settings.
  • D3.4.3-5: Use evidence to develop claims in response to compelling questions.
  • D4.2.3-5: Construct explanations using reasoning, correct sequence, examples, and details with relevant information and data.

Habits of Character / Social Emotional Learning Focus

Central to EL Education's curriculum is a focus on "habits of character" and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this module, students work to become ethical people: treat others well and stand up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion).

In this module, students also work to become effective learners: develop the mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration).

See unit overviews for more detail.


Each unit in the 3-5 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

Performance Task

Poetry Presentation

In this performance task, students synthesize their learning about what inspires poets to write poetry by presenting their own original poems inspired by something meaningful, along with a speech, including supporting visuals, about what inspired their poem and where you can see evidence of this in their poem. Their speech answers the question: What inspired you to write poetry, and where can you see evidence of this in your poem? This task centers on CCSS ELA SL.4.4 and SL.4.5.


See each Unit Overview for a list of any unusual physical materials required (such as puppets or props) for module lessons.

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
Love That Dog
by Sharon Creech
1 per student
ISBN: 9780064409599
A River of Words
by Jen Bryant
1 per class
ISBN: 9780802853028


Each module is approximately 6-8 weeks of instruction broken into 3 units. The "week at a glance" chart in the curriculum map gives the big picture, breaking down the module into a detailed week-by-week view. It shows how the module unfolds, the focus of each week of instruction, and where the six assessments and the performance task occur.

ALL Block

The Additional Language and Literacy (ALL) Block is 1 hour of instruction per day. It is designed to work in concert with and in addition to the 1-hour Grades 3–5 ELA “module lessons.” Taken together, these 2 hours of instruction comprehensively address all the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.

The ALL Block has five components: Additional Work with Complex Text; Reading and Speaking Fluency/GUM (Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics); Writing Practice; Word Study and Vocabulary; and Independent Reading.

The ALL Block has three 2-week units which parallel to the three units of the module.

Download each ALL Block unit on the Unit Overview pages.


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