Free Verse Poetry Writing

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • interact and collaborate in pairs, small groups, and large groups to comprehend and respond to a variety of texts.
  • speak and listen to make personal responses to texts, by describing reactions and emotions.
  • read, both collaboratively and independently, to comprehend a variety of literary texts, including poetry in a variety of narrative and lyric forms.
  • read, both collaboratively and independently, to comprehend a variety of literary texts, including student generated material.
  • explain and support personal responses to texts read and viewed, by describing reactions and emotions.
  • write effective imaginative texts to explore ideas, information, and understandings to make connections and develop insights.

Steps to the Unit

  1. Read and research various free verse poems.
  2. Compare and contrast three free verse poems to three different genre poems.
  3. Brainstorm evaluation criteria for student written free verse poems.
  4. Create individual free verse poems for presentation in class.
  5. Reflect on the process.



Students will:

  • develop an understanding of free verse style poetry.
  • read a variety of Aboriginal poems in the free verse style.
  • create their own free verse poem to present to the class.


Students will create their own free verse poem describing themselves and how they relate to their family, school, community, and world around them.

Activate Prior Knowledge:

Poetry as an art form may predate literacy itself. Many ancient works in prehistoric and ancient societies appear to have been composed in poetic form to aid memorization and oral transmission. Poetry often uses particular forms and conventions to expand the literal meaning of the words, or to evoke emotional or sensual responses.(

There are many forms and genres of poetry that students may have read (ie.sonnet, haiku, acrostic, cinquain) and each has their own unique structure of language. For the context of this lesson, students will read poems which follow a free verse or lyric free verse form.

Free Verse can be defined as:

A term describing various styles of poetry that are written without using strict meter or rhyme, but that still are recognizable as poetry by virtue of complex patterns that readers will perceive to be part of a coherent whole.(

Predict and Question:

Teachers ask the students if they have any questions regarding the structure of free verse poetry. What are they wondering about?


Before students start their writing process to create their own free verse poem, students should read a number of poetry selections to build their awareness of the free verse form. There are a number of different poetry collections available in school libraries and on the internet for students to read.

Some library collections include:

  • Till all the stars have fallen – David Booth
  • Many Voices – David Day
  • Poetry Alive – Dom Saliani

Teachers should select three free verse poems from their chosen resources and pair them up with three poems of different genres. For example, teachers could choose poems using the haiku, sonnet, and a traditional a-a-b-b form. As mentioned above, there are many poetry collections available in libraries and on the internet for teachers to choose from. Examples of haiku, sonnet, and traditional rhyming poems are included below:

Once the poetry pairs have been created, teachers distribute the poems (or display them on a screen using a projector/overhead) and have the students, in A-B partner groups, compare and contrast the poems using a “This is a Free Verse poem/This is Not” approach. In other words, students look at the free verse poem and identify what makes a free verse poem unique. Students should pay attention to elements like:

  • number of words per line.
  • number of syllables per line.
  • rhyming patterns.
  • number of lines in the poem/stanza.
  • theme/mood of the poem.

Then, while looking at the second poem in the pair, students try to identify why the second poem is NOT a free verse poem; using the same criteria as listed above. Students use Venn Diagram to record their observations.


Once the poem pairs have been compared and contrasted by the students, teachers select three new free verse poems, three new non-free verse poems, and distribute all six poems to each student A-B partner group. Then, the students look at all six poems and attempt to identify which poems are free verse and which poems are not. Student partner groups report out their reasons to the class.

As above, sources of poetry include the resources listed above or other anthologies in the school library. Online sources include:


Now that the students have a better understanding of the free verse form of poetry, students will create their own free verse poems. Teachers will need to brainstorm with the students the evaluation criteria expected for the finished product (ie. poem length, writing conventions, poetic mood). Students can write their poems using a variety of themes. For example, students can create poems that reflect a personal experience, their favourite hobby, social issues, or global issues like global warming. Teachers can brainstorm different topics for students to connect with on the board.

If some students are still struggling with arriving at a poem theme or topic, students can use an ‘I am’ format similar to the following poems

Teachers should point out some important elements in these poems:

  • The opening line is repeated at the end of each stanza.
  • There is six lines per stanza.
  • The poems reflect not only the students’ thoughts, hopes, and dreams, but the world around them.

Once students have completed their poems, students should present their poems to the class, a small group, or privately to the teacher.


Students reflect on their poems and, using either a writing journal or blank sheet of paper, write on what they have learned about the free verse form of poetry. How has their thinking changed?

Extend Learning or Next Lesson

Students build on their poetry writing skills and research/write other poetic forms such as haiku, cinquain, acrostic, etc.