Interpreting Poems


Students will demonstrate their understanding of scoring a poem by beginning to score their own and working on their poem in pairs.


Materials Needed

3 syllable words and situations
sample scoring sheet
poem analysis sheet


Related Documents

Poem Vocal Analysis Sheet
Three-syllable Words
Short Improv Situations
Scoring a Script Example


Lesson Directions


Anticipatory Set/Hook

As each student enters the room, hand them a slip of paper that has a three-syllable word printed on it. Instruct them that they can only speak that particular word until you tell them otherwise. Listen for regular speech and remind students who talk normal to use only their three-syllable word. They can use body language and pantomime as they speak their one word. You can ask the class questions like “Who did something exciting this weekend? Tell us about it.” (but only allow the three-syllable word to be used in their descriptions).



Modeling- Tell the students that they will be doing a short improvisational scene with a partner. They are only allowed to communicate using the three syllable word given to them. Demonstrate what that will look like. Choose a word to say and pretend you are a teacher teaching to a class that is being disruptive. Say the word many times in this example so they get the point that they have to say the word more than once to get their point across and convey emotion.


Guided Practice – Call the students into partners and give each partnership a simple setting/situation that they must improvise speaking only their three-syllable word. Have every member of the class participate in a short improvisation.


Individual Practice- Have each partnership do their improvisation for the class. Tell the students to get out a piece of paper and for each partnership that goes up have them write down the relationship and what was going on in the scene.


Transition – Let the ban on regular talking be lifted. Discuss with the class how it felt to be tied to only one word in speaking. Ask questions about their improvisations such as: What were you thinking as you tried to communicate with only one word? How else can you communicate? What emotions could you use to convey how you felt? How important are exact words in speech?


Checking for Understanding – Ask a student to review the four vocal characteristics that they were taught previously. Make sure that students understand the difference between volume and projection and your other elements of the voice. Tie in the three-syllable activity to the characteristics by pointing out instances where students communicated effectively simply by altering the volume of their word or tone etc. Also be sure that students understand that it is difficult to use only one vocal characteristic at a time; rather they all work together to appropriately portray the characters on stage.


Instruction – Have the students get out the copy of the poem that they did yesterday. Write down and/or post the guidelines of the Poem Performance assignment. Students should focus on memorization, breath control, and variety of vocal characteristics. Students do not need to focus on blocking, movement, gestures, etc. It will be an element of their performance but the focus is on the voice.


Modeling – To help the students apply their vocal characteristics to the poem, it is helpful to understand and interpret the poem. Pass out the Poem Vocal Sheet. Go over what the worksheet is asking each student to interpret (you can use the reading excerpt you just performed as a way to check for their understanding for the vocal sheet), and brainstorm with the students how interpreting their poem will show them which vocal characteristics to apply where. Demonstrate the concept of “scoring” a script (making notations through symbols and markings where vocal changes and characteristics occur). Encourage choosing and scoring a “high point” and a “low point” in the poem, scoring a place to have a fast rate and a slow rate, and noting changes in tone and volume. You can create a “key” to the scoring as a class.


Modeling- Model this scoring for the class. Pass out the scoring sheet. You will use this as the key to scoring their poems. Write down the first sentence of the monologue (the scoring sheet) on the board. Have students also re-write this sentence. Have them write scoring down to make the sentence more interesting and to give it meaning. (a pause here, an emphasis, speed up speech, slow down)
Have the students score their own poems. They need to have at least two of all the points.


Individual Practice- Have the students begin to memorize their poems. They will be performing them in two class periods. Remind the students to use their time wisely and that we will be working up to the bell.



Students can be assessed by their participation and copies of their scored poems and the poem analysis sheet. Also by working on their poems.