Presenting Poetry

Growing Independence and Fluency

Cassie Simpson


Rationale:  The fluency formula states that it is important for kids to read and reread decodable words in a connected text.  Students must become effortless decoders in order to read fluently, and fluency in reading allows the students to focus on the meaning of the text.  One such way to improve fluency is to reread familiar texts.  After repeated readings, students will read faster and with more expression.  They will do this by rereading, practicing, memorizing, and reciting a poem.


Several copies of

          It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles by Jack Prelutsky

          A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

          The Random House Book of Poetry for Children

List of students and the poems they choose

Sentence strip: “I threw the ball to first base.”

Bookmarks with self help strategies for each student (Stuck on a Word? teaches 1. take a shot, 2. read the rest, 3. change a guess, 4. read again)

Checklist for performing poem:

          memorize poem

          change the tone of voice

          the voice is audible and clear

          the poem is spoken with expression

Post-it notes



1. Explain to students that today we will be choosing poems and start memorizing.  Explain, “poetry is meant to be read with expression and emotion, and so we will each choose a poem and practice saying it so that we can read it with expression!”

2. Say, “Before we choose a poem to read, we are going to review a helpful strategy that we can use while we are reading.  Let’s all look at our orange bookmarks now.”  The bookmarks can be made; they simply teach that if a student is stuck on a word, he should first take a shot, then read the rest, change a guess, and finally read again.  Allow the students to get out bookmark, and then refer to sentence strip for this example.  “If I am reading this sentence, ‘I threw the ball to ….  I’ve come to a word that I don’t know.  So what I am going to do is make a guess about what I think the word is and then finish reading the sentence.  Then I change my guess if I need to and then reread the sentence.  ‘I threw the ball to frist base.  Hmmm.  Frist base.  Does that make sense?  No, oh it must be first base.  I threw the ball to first base.’  So what is the first thing we do?  (make a guess)  Then what is next?  (finish reading the sentence)  Great, and what’s third?  (change the guess)  And the last step is?  (reread the sentence).  Great job!  I want you to use this strategy if you come across a word that you don’t know while you are reading your poems!”

3. “You are going to each pick out a different poem so that you can memorize it and then perform it for the class.  Your poem needs to have at least fifteen lines and at least three words on each line.  You will memorize your poem so that means you are going to have to practice reading it a lot.  By reading it again and again, you will learn the words and then you can read with expression.  I am going to show you what your presented poem should sound like and look like.”

4. “I have chosen ‘Homework! Oh Homework!’ by Jack Prelutsky to recite today.”  Place poem on overhead and read: “Homework. Oh. Homework. I. hate. You.  Now see that’s kind of choppy, so I’m going to read it again.  Homework, oh homework.  I hate you.  That time I read more smoothly but I still didn’t have very much expression.  Okay, I’m going to read it again.  Homework! Oh, homework!  I hate you!  That time I read with expression.  Now I can recite it without looking at the poem.”  Recite the poem using expression and emotion in the voice and facial expressions.  Ask the students what they noticed about the way the teacher recites the poem.  Talk through the different things that the students may or may not have noticed. Explain that you will be looking to see if each student has memorized his or her poem, changed the tone of voice, the voice is audible and clear, the poem is spoken with expression. 

5. “I have picked out three books that you can use to choose your poem.  They are It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles, A Light in the Attic, and Book of Poetry for Chilren.  Many of the poems are funny and silly, like the one that I recited to you!  You will now choose the poem you would like to recite.  It cannot be the one that I read, and it cannot be one that someone else is reading, so once you find a poem, come tell me what poem you have chosen.”

6. Once everyone has chosen their poems, allow the students about ten minutes to read over their poems to learn any unfamiliar words and become acquainted with the text.  After ten minutes, pair off the students.  Explain, “Now you are going to practice reading your poem to your partner.  Each person is going to have a checklist to help his or her partner.  As your partner reads, look to see if they are practicing the different things on the checklist: memorize poem, change the tone of voice, the voice is audible and clear, the poem is spoken with expression.  Once they have finished think of one thing they did well and one thing they need to work on before the performance.  Write these things down on a sticky note and give to the student.  Then let the other partner practice his poem.”

7. Tell the students that they need to be practicing their poems at home.  Allow them to recite their poems to their partners again two days later and have them write one positive and one negative again.


The students will perform their poem for the class one week after they have chosen their poem.  Each student will be evaluated to see if he or she has memorized his or her poem, changed the tone of voice, the voice is audible and clear, the poem is spoken with expression.


Barton, Sarah.  “Help! Hilary! Help!”

Prelustky, Jack.  “Homework! Oh, Homework!” The New Kid on the Block.  Greenwillow.  1984.  Illus. by James Stevenson

Prelutsky, Jack.  It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles.  HarperTrophy.  2005.  Illus. by James Stevenson

Prelutsky, Jack.  The Random House Book of Poetry for Children.  Random House.  2000.  Illus. by Arnold Lobel.

Silverstein, Shel.  A Light in the Attic.  Harpercollins Childrens Books.  2002.

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