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Reading to Learn about Poetry

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The Foundational Reading and Language Standards Resources Package for Grades 3–5

Use this guide to build additional literacy blocks alongside the module lessons.


In this unit, students read the first half of the novel Love That Dog by Sharon Creech, as well as poems by authors such as William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, and Valerie Worth, to help them begin to answer one of the guiding questions: “What makes a poem a poem?” Students follow the main character, Jack, as he learns about and begins to experiment with writing his own poetry. Students read each poem that Jack reads, along with Jack’s personal reflections on the poems. They work in small groups to capture notes that help them describe how Jack’s understanding of poetry develops over time as well as characteristics of poetry related to structure and word choice. Students apply what they learn through writing routines that encourage them to experiment with the poetic elements they learn about. Vocabulary work throughout this unit focuses on building students’ ability to determine the meaning of key terms from the context and explaining the meaning of simple metaphors and similes.

For the mid-unit assessment, students independently read then respond to text-dependent questions about pages 20–24 of Love That Dog and the poem “The Pasture” by Robert Frost, to demonstrate their ability to explain what the text says explicitly by referring to details from the text, describe Jack’s thoughts about poetry, and determine the meaning of key terms from the context. For the end of unit assessment, students independently read pages 39–41 of Love That Dog to determine the meaning of key terms through the use of a variety of strategies as well as plan and write a response to the question: What has Jack learned about poetry? 


Note: Although RL.4.5 is introduced in this unit, it is not fully assessed until later in the module when students have the opportunity to compare/contrast poetry and prose. Also, work with figurative language in this unit is cursory and serves as an introduction for deeper work with similes and metaphors in Unit 2.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

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

Content Connections



Optional Activities


  • Invite a local author in to speak to students about the writing process and what inspires them as a writer.


  • Arrange for students to visit a family friendly poetry reading.


  • Arrange for students to practice their fluent reading skills by visiting classrooms and reading poems to younger students.


  • Closely read additional poems by William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, Valerie Worth, and Walter Dean Myers (see recommended text lists for all three units of this module).

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