Using Riddle Poems
To Teach Poetic Elements
RIWP Summer Institute
July 19, 2004
K W L
What do you Know about
What would you like to
What did you Learn from
The purpose of the lesson is
to teach poetic elements so
students can identify them
in their reading and utilize
them in their writing.
Why are we learning this?
Standards and GLEs
informational materials to
develop expertise and
produces written ororal work
that reflects these points.
E3b-student participates in
E3c-student prepares and
delivers an individual
E5b-student produces workin
at least one literary genre that
follows the conventions of the
NEGLE W1-student applies
understanding of the structures of
language in a particulargenre of
NEGLE W2, W3-student writes in
response to literary or
NEGLE W9-student applies
conventions of a particulargenre
NEGLE R1-student uses word
identification skills and strategies
NEGLE R2, R3, R4, R7-student
applies vocabulary strategies and
understanding of literary and
What is a Riddle Poem?
I like to feel it Firmand cool-
And Round beneath my feet
It’s one of hundreds shouldering
A long-enduring street.
I like to muse who felt it first-
And why They trod, and when,
To fit in patterns-edge to edge-
The paths fromNow to Then.
Choose an answer
Use a thesaurus
Think like the object
Use figurative language
Step 1: Begin with your
Your topic can be
concrete like a desk, a
car, or even a person.
You can also choose
something abstract like
happiness or peace
Step 2: Brainstorm
Create a list of words and ideas related to and
associated with yourtopic.
Thinkwith all yoursenses: where do you see, hear,
smell, taste and touch things related to yourtopic?
Clouds, wet, rain, liquid, fish, stream, river,
lake, pool, pond, swimming, ocean, ice,
glacier, steam, snow, boats, sailing
Also thinkof words or
ideas that are opposite or
opposed to yourtopic
Earth, fire, dry, air
Choose some words you
brainstormed and look up
their synonyms in a
thesaurus. Look up synonyms
for your topic too
Use a rhyming dictionary to look
up words that rhyme with the
ones in yourlist
Thinklike the object: Try describing the
world from the object’s point of view.
What do you see, hear, feel? What do you
do? What do you like?
What would a riverthink?
I run downhill
I make canyons
Fish live in me
Try using figurative language:
Describe yourtopic using figurative
language to give clues
Simile: Pools that reflect like
Metaphor: Streams are fish roads
Personification: The rain played a
Once you’ve gathered
yournotes, you’re ready
to begin a draft.
How should we
Let’s start with the ideas of water
cutting canyons and reflecting
like a mirror
I amlike a mirrorwhen I’m
I amstrongerthan stone when
Sounds good but bland. Try
playing with the word order
Still, I am like a mirror
Fast, I’m stronger than
Now use yourbrainstormto add
different poetic elements like
personification, metaphors, and
maybe even rhyme
Try different line and word
combinations. Sometimes even the
slightest change can make a big
difference. Read yourpoem aloud and
play with the words and orderuntil it
makes sense and sounds right.
Publishing YourFinal Draft
Publish yourpoemin a creative way
Use form and shape the poemlike its
Use a creative background that doubles
as a clue
Draw a picture to go with yourpoem
Make an audio recording of yourpoem
Have students generate a rubric
forthe assignment. Include an
explanation of the poetic elements
in theirpoems and how they used
Have a poetry reading and invite parents,
administrators, otherclasses and outside guests.
Have the audience try to guess the riddle.
Display the poems in yourclassroomand school
Thoughts and Questions
Should students workindependently orin
What are some otherfollow-up activities?
How should I differentiate the lesson for
students at various levels?
How can I integrate this lesson to othersubject
How can I introduce different types of poetry
into the lesson?
How can I use this with different genres of
Feldman, Ruth Tenzer. “Guess What”
Cobblestone, March 1995, 24-25
Claggett, Fran, Louann Reid and Ruth Vinz. Daybook of critical Reading and
Wilmington, Massachusetts: Great Source Education Group, 1999
Writing Riddle Poems. NCTE/IRA, marcopolo. 2003; cited July, 2004
Zemelman, Steven and Harvey Daniels. A Community of Writers.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1988
Caravia, Lori. Riddle Poem. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign,
1997; cited July, 2004
Miller, Carol Rawlings. 50 Writing Lessons That Work. New York: Scholastic
Professional Books, 1999
My Students and My Collegues. Western Hills Middle School. Cranston, Rhode