The Poetry Anthology

The poetry anthology is a summative assessment used in my Pre-AP English 2 class for sophomore students.  While students have previously read, discussed, and written about poetry as part of thematic units, this unit is focused on the close reading and analysis of poetry.  The lesson begins with poems based on students’ interest, moves to a focus on teacher-modeled explication of a poem with the class, and then expands into individual explications of the poems in the students’ anthology.

Grade Level/Age: 10th grade (15-16 years)

Curriculum Addressed: Students will demonstrate their comprehension of a poem through an analysis of the poem’s subject and form.

Process Goals: Students will explicate 10 poems in terms of comprehension, language analysis, and central theme.  

Materials: Sources for the poetry anthology are open, meaning students can find poems from any source they wish; however, at least two of the poems must come from  As a transition between units, I usually have students recite one of the poems from this database to the class.

Desired Understandings: While the emphasis of the assessment is on poetic analysis, I want students to evaluate what they like about a particular poem.  In addition to talking about a poem’s theme, it’s important for students to communicate what they connect to in a poem, or why they consider a poem “good.”


Students will find 10 poems that they relate to, understand, and like.

  1. For each poem, students will…
    1. Paraphrase the poem. 
    2. Identify the speaker and the intended audience. 
    3. Identify the poem’s action. 
    4. Identify the specific setting of time and place. 
    5. Consider the poem’s title. 
    6. Evaluate the poem’s diction. 
    7. Identify key poetic devices and evaluate how those devices affect the poem’s meaning.
    8. Identify any instances of irony and evaluate how it affects the poem’s overall meaning.
    9. Evaluate the tone of the poem and how the tone affects the poem’s meaning.
    10. State and explain the overall central idea, or theme, inferred from their analysis.
  2. Make a proper MLA citation of the poem in a bibliography.


Standard 1: Oral Expression and Listening

2. Effectively operating in small and large groups to accomplish a goal requires active listening.

Standard 2: Reading for All Purposes

  1. Literary and historical influences determine the meaning of traditional and contemporary literary texts. 
  1. Context, parts of speech, grammar, and word choice influence the understanding of literary, persuasive, and informational texts

Standard 3:  Writing and Composition

2. Organizational writing patterns inform or persuade an audience

Assessment:  Collectively, there are three actions to assess in the unit: students’ close reading skills through the explication of the poems, students’ writing in their advancement of a final assertion regarding a poem’s theme, and the proper usage of MLA (Modern Language Association) citation guidelines.  To assess their close reading and analysis process, I use a rubric to evaluate their explication of a poem. The rubric is introduced at the start of the unit and is reinforced through our class explications. To assess students’ writing, I use the AP constructed-response rubric. Finally, I use a basic rubric to assess their use of proper MLA documentation.

Adaptions/Accommodations:  I adapt the unit as needed for students requiring accommodations.  Usually, I lower the number of required for the anthology to stress quality over quantity.