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Rigorous Resources

High School Poetry Unit: How to Analyze Poetic Imagery, Figurative Language, & More!

High School Poetry Unit: How to Analyze Poetic Imagery, Figurative Language, & More!

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How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.... This 2-week EDITABLE poetry unit was designed to boost skills in close reading and formal analysis in any English classroom. The discussion questions, quick writes, literary device quizzes, and analytical writing assignment will challenge your students to dig beneath the surface of the text and generate profound interpretive insights!

The unit features 50+ poems written by a diverse spectrum of American and British poets. The poems and accompanying lesson plans are organized into 10 thematic packets that can be used in sequence over two weeks. That's over 200 pages worth of EDITABLE poetry resources!


Here are some highlights from this editable 200-page curriculum:

 Homework Packets with Poems (5-6 Poems per Packet): The 10 homework packets contain a total of 50+ poems by a diverse range of award-winning poets such as William Shakespeare, John Keats, Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Robert Hayden, Theodore Roethke, E. E. Cummings, Audre Lorde, Mary Oliver, Gary Soto, Li-Young Lee, Ada Limón, and others. The poems are collected into eight reading packets that focus on prominent literary devices and themes: 1) poems using sensory imagery, 2) poems using figurative language, 3) love poems, 4) poems on ethical dilemmas, and 5) poems on complex parent-child dynamics. Because teenagers have a lot to say about these themes, the poems will set the stage for your class to have fascinating and profoundly productive discussions!! (60 pages)

 Literary Devices Glossary: A glossary with definitions and examples of the various types of figurative language, imagery, stanzas, and syntactic devices. Many teachers already have a glossary of literary devices, but I'm providing this in case you need one. (2 pages)

 Literary Devices Quizzes: A total of ten quizzes, each with 10 questions about a wide range of literary devices: metaphor, personification, symbolism, imagery, alliteration, etc. Open each class with a quiz to assess whether your students can accurately identify the literary devices used in the poems from the homework packets. Answer keys included. (20 pages).

 Discussion Questions: This bundle features a list of discussion questions for the first poem in each of the homework packets. The discussion questions will ensure that every class discussion gets started in a productive manner. Every discussion question is grounded in concrete textual details and challenges students to arrive at lucid interpretive insights! The questions lend themselves to a range of different pedagogical uses: 1) to focus students’ thinking prior to beginning a discussion, 2) to prompt in-class writing, 3) to assign written reflections for homework, etc. Guaranteed to elicit student engagement and foster deep thinking! Answer keys included. (50 pages)

 Quick Writes: The quick writes give students an opportunity to capture and refine the best ideas generated in the discussion. Quick writes can also help reticent students to gather their thoughts so they'll feel ready and eager to contribute. (20 pages)

 Analytical Writing Assignment: Challenge students to take their interpretations one step further by writing an analytical paper on a poem of their choice. The assignment sheet contains detailed instructions for how to generate a formalist analysis of a poem (analyzing how the poem's formal features contribute to its meaning). This kind of formalist analysis is exactly what students are asked to generate on the AP Literature exam! Sample paper included. (15 pages)


This entire resource packet will come to you in two separate formats: Word docs *and* PDFs. Because the Word docs are fully editable, you'll be able to customize the materials to suit the skill levels of your students — year after year! If you don't have Microsoft Word, you'll still be able to access all of the materials as PDF documents — which are easy to navigate and quick to print!

My store is called “Rigorous Resources” because all of the resources contain rigorous content that will motivate students to engage in thoughtful analysis of literary texts. If there is anything I can do to support your amazing work in the classroom, please don't hesitate to get in touch! 

Happy teaching,

Adam Jernigan, Ph.D.

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