World War I Poetry

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
One week. More time may be required if student presentations are made.
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
Working in cooperative learning groups, students will explicate selected poems. Written analysis will be completed on the attached teacher generated analysis guides.

This lesson is designed for use in the history class as well as in the English class. It is cross curricular; however; it could be used in either an English class or a history class depending on the organization of the school.  Poems relating to World War I will be introduced to the students.  A discussion will follow which will include historical context of the poem and literary analysis. Working in cooperative learning groups, the students will explicate the poems.  Written analysis will be completed on the attached teacher generated analysis guides.  In addition to the poetry explication, students will also research the author, historical era and specific topics that relate to the poem (s) that they are analyzing.  Using essential analytical and research skills students will research in the school computer lab during class and additional research will be completed as a homework assignment.

Rationale (why are you doing this?)

Students will learn more about the specific historical events by interpreting and analyzing the poetry of the era. The literary perspective, in addition to the textbook and class discussions, will enhance their understanding of history. It will humanize the World War I experience for the students.

Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • Research an author from the World War I era  and write a brief biography
  • Select one or more poems to explicate and uses the attached analysis guides
  • Create art work that illustrates the essence/theme of the poem
  • Research historical context of the poem
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met

Kansas Standards

  • Social Studies: Kansas, United States, and World History: History  Standard: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of significant individuals, groups, ideas, events, eras, and developments in the history of Kansas, the United States, and the world, utilizing essential analytical and research skills. Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas events, eras, and developments in the history of Kansas, the United States, and turning points in the era of the industrial era.  Benchmark 4: The student engages in historical thinking skills.
  • Language Arts: 1081.06:  Apply appropriate literary terminology in analyzing and writing about literature
  • 1081.35: Develop presentation skills through oral interpretation of literature
  • 1081.38: Use skills to research and document information on a topic of interest
  • 1081.39: Use current technology to enhance reading, writing, speaking, listening and viewing.
  • 1081.05: Analyze figurative language in literary selections: metaphor, simile, personification, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, alliteration, imagery, and symbolism.
  • 108l.03: Demonstrate knowledge of literature from a variety of genres, cultures and historical periods.

Missouri Standards

Social Studies

2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions

7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)

Comm Arts.

2. reading and evaluating fiction, poetry and drama

7. identifying and evaluating relationships between language and culture

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
  • A Patriot’s Handbook by Caroline Kennedy
  • The American Reader Words That Moved a Nation by Diane Ravitch
  • The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry edited by Jon Silkin
  • In Flanders Field The story of the Poem by John McCrae by Linda Granfield
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed
  • War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon
  • In Flanders Field and Other Poems by John McCrae
  • World War One British Poets by Brooke, Owen, Sassoon, Rosenberg and Others
  • Audio recordings of poems
  • Photographs of the setting of the poem
Technology Required

Computer or DVD player CD or record player

Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?

Part I of the lesson:  The students will see a variety of poems on the screen and listen while they are being read. Background information about the authors, the time period, and the geographic regions will be given. As the students work together, the Poem of the Day analysis guide will be completed by each student. A class discussion will be generated from the different categories on the analysis guide. Next, students will be given the Literature Analysis guide to complete as the class works together to analyze/explicate the poem. Using post-it-notes they will annotate the different figures of speech that are found in the poem. The post-it –notes will be placed on the attached template. The literary analysis process that is modeled for the students is the same process that will be used when students work independently on their own poetry project.  Photographs, watercolors, and sketches that illustrate different themes from the poems will also be on display for the students to analyze. They will discuss which visual display best illustrates the poems that were analyzed during the class discussion.


Part II of the lesson: Students will be given an anthology of poets and poems to study. They will select the poem that interests them the most. We will conference about the selection and share ideas about the project. Students will complete the Poem of the Day analysis guide and turn it in for evaluation and editing. For homework they will complete the Literature Analysis guide by using their post-it-notes. They will also begin to brainstorming for the best technique to illustrate the theme/essence of the poem. They may want to create a watercolor, a sketch, or use some form of technology to enhance the poem. One class period will be spent in the computer lab and in the library for student research. The finished product will include the following components: a typed copy of the poem, a brief biographical narrative of the author, an overview of the historical background of the poem, a final edited version of the Poem of the Day guide, and some form of art work that illustrates the theme/essence of the poem. A bibliography will be required. Students may choose how to display their poetry project.  The poem and artwork may be matted and glued onto construction paper by the student or the student may choose to create a multi-media display.  These finished products will create a poetry gallery in the library for students, parents, and guests to enjoy.

Online Collection