Heather Heather

Figurative Language in Poetry
11th Grade level


In this lesson, students will listen to and read "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou. They will learn relevant vocabulary, identify different forms of figurative language, and identify rhyme in the poem. They will also discuss the meaning of the poem. Students will then brainstorm about a topic, figurative language, and rhyming words that they can use to write a poem. Each student will then write a short poem using at least one simile, one metaphor, and one example of personification as well as some rhyming words.


Abc "Still I Rise" Vocabulary Flashcards
Abc "Still I Rise" Handout
Abc Poetry- Figurative Language PowerPoint

Main Aims

  • Students will be able to identify figurative language in a poem, in order to write their own poem, using at least one metaphor, one simile, and one personification.

Subsidiary Aims

  • Students will practice listening to poetry for gist (main idea)
  • Students will learn/review relevant vocabulary in the context of African American poetry
  • Students will practice identifying and using figurative language in poetry
  • Students will practice reading and reflecting on the meaning of poem


Warmer/Lead-in (5-7 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

The teacher shows a cartoon (on PPT) to introduce the idea of figurative language. The teacher asks the students to guess what type of language the characters are using. The teacher calls on one or two students. If none get it right, the teacher gives the correct answer (figurative language). The teacher shows the next PPT slide with an assignment for students to complete in pairs. Students match the types of figurative language (simile, metaphor, personification) with their definitions and the example in the cartoon. The students have three minutes to complete this activity. The teacher calls on pairs to share their answers.

Clarification of Vocabulary (4-5 minutes) • To provide clarification of vocabulary to help students understand the poem they will read

The teacher hands out notecards with vocabulary words, definitions, pictures, and examples from the poem. The teacher instructs students to work in groups of four to match each words/phrase with its respective definition/picture and example from "Still I Rise." Students will have 3 minutes to complete this activity before open class feedback.

Exposure (10-15 minutes) • To provide a model of writing expected in productive task through listening to a poem for gist, reading it for specific information and identifying similes, metaphors, personification, and rhyme.

The teacher hands out copies of Maya Angelou's poem, "Still I rise" with underlined figurative language. The teacher reads the poem to the class while students listen for the main idea (gist). The teacher gives a model of the assignment (boxes rhyming words and highlights simile in the first stanza). Students then read the poem on their own and follow the instructions on the handout. They will circle unfamiliar words and look them up or ask for help. They will also box the rhyming words and highlight the different types of figurative language in different colors. Students will have 5 minutes to complete this assignment. Students will then have 2 minutes to check their work with their partner before open class feedback.

Analysis (5-7 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice analyzing the meaning of figurative language and rhyme in a poem to prepare to use these in their own poems

Students work in groups of 4 to discuss questions based on their observations of figurative language and rhyme. Students then discuss the main idea of the poem and some important themes in the poem. The teacher conducts open class feedback by calling on groups to share their answers. The teacher writes notes on the board.

Writing Task (18-20 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice writing a poem using figurative language

The teacher shows a PowerPoint slide and has students copy down the graphic organizer onto a piece of paper. The teacher calls on students to suggest ideas to create an example graphic organizer. The teacher demonstrates how to use that information to write a poem. Students will then have 3 minutes to brainstorm and 10 minutes to write a short poem using at least one simile, one metaphor, one example of personification, and some rhyming words. Students will then share their poems in pairs and turn them into the teacher.

Feedback and Error Correction (3-5 minutes) • To provide feedback on students' writing and use of language

The teacher will write some examples of good and poor use of language (without identifying who used that language) on the board and have students identify which examples are incorrect and how they can be improved. If necessary, the teacher will explain how to correct the examples.

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