Ur a Poet & U Didn't Know It

1. Challenging Perceptions of Poetry

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To understand that poetry has a variety of structural and language features
  • To understand that language use can change in response to technology

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can explain how the structures and features of a poem can influence its meaning
  • I can reflect on the way that technology can change the way we use language

This stage of the sequence focuses on building the context or field in order to support students to investigate their understanding of poetry.

A focus on providing stimulating, challenging, unexpected and joyful interactions with language is encouraged. Selecting poetry that resonates with both teacher and students is key.

It is strongly recommended that teachers review all suggested stimulus texts prior to their use to ensure their appropriateness and to enable rich, respectful discussion. For guidance on text selection refer to the Teaching and Learning Resources — Selecting Appropriate Materials policy.

1. Thinking and responding

Encourage students to explore their current perceptions of and feelings towards poetry by providing them with the opportunity to create a simple acrostic poem in response to the word ‘poetry’.

For example:

Poetry is boring

Old people like it

Especially teachers

Truly terrible

Really dull


Once students have brainstormed ideas for their poem independently, consider inviting them to utilise a random word generator to edit and enhance their responses. Create a gallery display of poems and invite students to share their poems with the class.

Enable students who require additional support to create individual poems by working one-on-one or in small groups to write a single or double-word acrostic response using a word finder tool for inspiration. For example: Personal/Opinion/Express yourself/Tricky/Really hard/Yours.

Alternatively, provide one-on-one support to enable students to conduct a group brainstorm in response to the prompt ‘I think poetry is…’

Extend students by asking them to incorporate one or more randomly generated idioms into their acrostic poem using a random phrase generator. Alternatively, offer the option of creating a double-acrostic poem or an acrostic poem in which the letter prompts are found in an alternate position, such as at the end of the line.

For example:

2. Exploring and reflecting

Provide students with a range of poetic provocations to examine and challenge understandings of the form. For example, Bankstown Freedom Writers’ 'Lost Tongues', Naomi Shihab Nye’s ‘found’ poem based on the comments of her toddler son 'One boy told me',  'A Boat' by Richard Brautigan or Graham Foust’s extremely short but compelling 'And the ghosts' may disrupt students’ preconceived notions about poetry and encourage students to delight in the imaginative use of language structure and features. A reading about young poets who are challenging the art form may also be useful at this stage.

Invite students to perform one of the selected poems with you or with a partner during the launch, offering time for preparation prior to the class. Selecting a poem written for two voices would also work well for this purpose.

Set up a wall space or workstations with copies of a graphic organiser like the ‘Pondering Poetry’ Table allocated to each poem (see Materials and texts for template). Ask students to move around the room and record their responses to at least two of the poems. Alternatively, provide students with a hard or digital copy of the grid to complete individually at their table, or assign one poem and a grid to small groups to complete.

Discuss responses and guide students into a doughnut circle to generate conversation about the characteristics of poetry. Consider using a simple prompt like ‘What is poetry?’, recording ideas, questions and comments using an anchor chart or a digital collaboration tool.

Suggested doughnut circle prompts:

  • What is poetry? What might its purpose be?
  • What do you think poetry looks like?
  • Have you read any poetry? How did it make you feel?
  • Where might poetry be found? Who can write it?
  • Would you consider all the work we’ve looked at today to be poetry? Why? Why not? Who decides what counts as poetry?
  • What preconceived ideas might you have about poetry? Have any of today’s poems challenged those ideas?
  • Do you have any questions about poetry after seeing/hearing this selection of poems?

Invite students to view a stimulus that explores the concept of poetry further, such as the TEDEd clip ‘What makes a poem…a poem?’ or ‘What is the shortest poem?’

1. Collaborative Learning

Ask students to form small groups and invite them to reflect on how language may have changed over time in response to technology. Ask students to think of 2-3 things they think are different about ‘texting’ (SMS) and ‘Tweets’ as opposed to spoken or formal language. Invite students to suggest other social media platforms in which they also use informal language. Prompt groups to think about tone, spelling, visual elements and metadata tags like hashtags. Ask students to create a Venn diagram to record their ideas and to enable comparisons.

Introduce the concept of SMS and Twitter poetry using an aide like The Guardian’s SMS poetry competition or the BBC article 'How I accidentally became a poet through Twitter' to illustrate the form.

For example:


14: a txt msg pom.

his is r bunsn brnr bl%,

his hair lyk fe filings

W/ac/dc going thru.

I sit by him in kemistry,

it splits my @oms

wen he :-)s @ me.

- Julia Bird, Poetry Book Society

14: a text message poem

his eyes are bunsen burner blue,

his hair like iron filings

with ac/dc going through.

I sit by him in chemistry,

it splits my atoms

when he smiles at me

In small groups, invite students to reflect on the use of language in SMS and Twitter poems. Assign a single question to each group or invite groups to address multiple discussion prompts.

Suggested prompts:

  • Who might the audience be for SMS and/or Twitter poems?
  • What might be their purpose?
  • Where might you find poems like these?
  • Can the way language is used affect its meaning? How?
  • Why might language have evolved in response to technology?
  • What might a person need to know to understand SMS or Twitter poetry?
  • Would all of the members of your community find this poetic form easy to understand?

Encourage students to consider the similarities between the ‘tools’ or understanding required to read SMS or Twitter poetry and the tools that may be required to read or access poetry more broadly. For example, an understanding of SMS ‘shorthand’ and/or an awareness of figurative language. Discuss student responses.

If you have conducted an earlier conversation about what constitutes poetry, revisit the discussion and revise the class’s list or add to a class collaborative digital document. 

2. Independent or collaborative research

Students research and explore a variety of poetic forms in pairs. Ask each pair to provide a description of a nominated form and to present an example of it to the class. It may be useful to provide students with a short list of forms such as Cinquain, Elegy, Ode, Pantoum, Sonnet, Tanka or Ekphrasis.

Ask students to perform their chose poem in their pair, to read it individually or to record a reading to be screened to their peers.

Guide pairs into groups of four to enable two poems/poetic forms to be shared. Ask each group to work together to reflect on the poems, using a graphic organiser to compare and contrast.

Suggested prompts:

  • How do the forms of poetry differ?
  • What do they have in common?
  • What topics or themes might each of the poems be addressing?
  • Which element of the poetic form stood out to you? Why?
  • Did either of the poetic forms you are looking at challenge your understanding of what poetry is? How?

As a group, brainstorm an agreed class definition of the word poetry. Add the definition to a class anchor chart or digital collaborative document.

Ask students to write an exit ticket in the form of an SMS ‘shorthand’ poem expressing either:

  • how they would describe poetry to someone else
  • how they feel about poetry
  • whether their ideas about poetry have been challenged or changed

Alternatively, ask students to reflect on a quote about poetry in SMS ‘shorthand’.

All Poetry, 2017. Contest Double Acrostic Poem. [Online]
Available at: www.allpoetry.com/contest/2667866-Double-Acrostic-poem
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

BankstownPoetrySlam, 2017. Lost Tongues – Freedom Writers | Grand Slam 2017. [Online]
Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyvKTIoxz7Q
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

BBC News Magazine, 2016. How I accidentally became a poet through Twitter. [Online]
Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-37319526
[Accessed 26 June 2022].

Biology Corner, n.d. Compare and contrast. [Online]
Available at: www.biologycorner.com/resources/graphic_compare_contrast.gif
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Brautigan, R, 2013. Poetry Foundation, A boat. [Online]
Available at: www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/56423/a-boat-56d238e754f45
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Brewer, R., 2007. Poetic Asides: Acrostic Poems and Poetry. [Online]
Available at: www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/poetic-forms/acrostic-poems-poetry
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Brewer, R., 2014. Writer’s Digest: List of 100 Poetic Forms for Poets. [Online]
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[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Education Service Center Region 13, n.d. The Teacher Toolkit, Exit Ticket. [Online]
Available at: http://www.theteachertoolkit.com/index.php/tool/exit-ticket
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Fleischman, P., 2018. Squarespace, Poems for two voices. [Online]
Available at: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5b68bea87e3c3a7bded04e72/t/5b880d311ae6cf7db8a⁴²⁵⁶⁸/₁₅₃₅₆₄₂₉₂₉₈₁₃/POEM_FOR_TWO_VOICES.pdf
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Interesting Literature, 2015. 45 quotes about poetry for National poetry day. [Online]
Available at: www.interestingliterature.com/2015/10/45-quotes-about-poetry-for-national-poetry-day/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Keegan, V., 2001. The Guardian, The message is the Medium. [Online]
Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2001/may/03/internet.poetry
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Kovacs, M., n.d. TEDEd: What makes a poem…a poem?. [Online]
Available at: https://ed.ted.com/lessons/what-makes-a-poem-a-poem-melissa-kovacs
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Lizzo Music, 2016. Lizzo – Good as Hell. [Online]
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmbmeOgWsqE
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

LovetoKnow Corp, n.d. Word Finder by Your Dictionary, Find words starting with P. [Online]
Available at: https://wordfinder.yourdictionary.com/words-that-start/p/
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Mulvahill, E., 2019. We are Random Word Generator. [Online]
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Padlet, n.d. Padlet. [Online]
Available at: padlet.com
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PoetryEverywherePTV, 2009. Poetry Everywhere: One boy told me by Naomi Shihab Nye. [Online]
Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=biJ3FP8aDjY
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Random Word Generator, n.d. Random Phrase Generator. [Online]
Available at: https://randomwordgenerator.com/phrase.php
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State Government of Victoria, (Department of Education and Training), 2018. Doughnut Sharing, Literacy Teaching Toolkit. [Online]
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Teachers, n.d. Anchor charts 101: Why and how to use them. [Online]
Available at: https://www.weareteachers.com/anchor-charts-101/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

The Guardian, 2001. The message is the medium. [Online]
Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2001/may/03/internet.poetry
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

The New York Times, 2011. Four New Twitter Poems. [Online]
Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/20/weekinreview/20twitterature-poems.html
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Visme, n.d. Venn-Diagram maker. [Online]
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Vsauce, 2013. What is the Shortest poem?. [Online]
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[Accessed 15 March 2022].

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