Rhyme Scheme in Poetry


This is a series of five 45 minute lessons within a larger unit pairing Paul Revere's Ride with Johnny Tremain. During these lessons, students learn primary and secondary stress in polysyllabic words and take that knowledge to understand the rhyme scheme in both T.S. Elliot's Ad-dressing of Cats and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Paul Revere's Ride.

Grade Level: 
Grades 6-8
Class Time Needed: 
4 hours
Lesson Plan: 

Grade 7
Four 45-minute lessons.
Language Arts
Montana Writing and Reading Standards
Writing Content Standard 5: Students recognize the structures of various forms and apply these characteristics to their own writing.

Literature Content Standard 2: Students recognize and evaluate how language, literary devices, and elements contribute to the meaning and impact of literary works.

Students learn to count syllables correctly in polysyllabic words.
Students learn how to identify primary stress and secondary stress in polysyllabic words.
Students learn how to identify rhyme scheme in poetry.
Students write poetry with specific rhyme scheme in mind, in this case limerick.
Internet access
Software: Skype, Power Point,
Hardware: Computer, Smart Board, Web-cam, Smartboard or projector screen, projector

Preparation for each lesson
Lesson 1: Have a list of polysyllabic words to start.
Choose words with different stresses to give students practice identifying them. Choose words that look the same but mean different things because of the stress marker.
Lesson 2: Prepare copies of Ad-dressing of Cats by T.S. Elliot for each student.
Prepare copies of Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Lesson 4: Prepare technology:
Download Skype
Web-cam prepared with computer
Set-up projector

Lesson 1- 45 minutes: The teacher reviews the definition of syllable with the students. She gives some examples of two and three syllable words. Students then brainstorm words and decide how many syllables each word has.

The teacher then defines stresses on syllables and gives more examples. By comparing words like [conduct]N (primary stress on con-) and [conduct]V (primary stress on -duct) students are able to grasp the difference between primary stressed syllables and lesser stressed syllables in a word.

Lesson 2 - 45 minutes: Students read Addressing of Cats by T.S. Elliot silently. Then, either the teacher or a student reads the poem aloud to the class. Students then identify the rhyming pattern they observed while reading the poem and share what they think in small groups. After they have discussed it and shared what they learned with the class, the teacher shows them how to label the rhyme scheme with AABB CCDD etc. They notice the pairing of the rhyme scheme and are told they are couplets.

Lesson 3- 45 minutes: Students read Paul Revere's Ride along with a pod-cast narrated by Samuel Jay Keyser. (If you would like this MP4 file, e-mail me at bkeyser@sd3.k12.mt.us). This can also be read by the teacher or one or more students.

The students are shown how to label the rhyme scheme of the first couple of stanzas then, since the poem is so long, they are assigned different stanzas to label. This poem is a little more complex to label.

The stanzas are reconstructed in the correct order on the board so the whole class can see how the stanzas differ in their rhyme scheme. The teacher checks their work to make sure they understand how to do it and clears up any misunderstanding.

Lesson 4: 30 minutes: The students have the opportunity to listen to and learn from a professional linguist and poet about rhyme scheme and its role in poetry. Through a web-cam and Skype, Dr. Keyser was able to interact with students much like I can in the classroom. He showed them how rhyme scheme and meaning in Paul Revere's Ride are intricately linked. He asked engaging questions about the rhythm of the poem as well even though that was not formerly taught earlier.

He discussed the rhyme scheme in Ad-dressing of Cats and contrasted the two lines where the rhyme scheme was not perfect. This challenged the students' understanding of stressed syllables and rhyme scheme.

Lesson 5: Students were asked to write poetry in the form of limericks and other poetry with specific rhyme schemes. Their shared them with the class and my father, who of course responded in kind with his own limericks.