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English Language Arts Blog

The home of Vocab Gal and other educational experts K–12 resources

March 24, 2022 ELA K-5, ELA 6-8, ELA Focus - Close Reading, ELA Resources - Activities

Humorous Poetry Close Reading Lesson Plan, Grades 7–8

In this article, you’ll learn how to help your students sharpen their close reading skills by applying them to a set of two different humorous poems on topics they’re sure to know a little something about: the pain of waking up early and the torture of being stuck inside working when you just want to play outside! The article provides detailed implementation instructions for this poetry close reading lesson plan. Plus, download the free Humorous Poetry Close Reading Kit for students in Grades 7–8.


Before we dive into the poetry close reading lesson, let’s take a minute to review the basics of this ELA buzzword. We see it listed in our state standards, we hear it mentioned in our professional development, but what exactly makes up the nitty-gritty of a close reading lesson?

Brief Overview of Close Reading Strategies and Techniques

At its core, close reading is a tiered process for unearthing the hidden meaning of a text through increasingly in-depth analysis.


Through three subsequently deeper readings, students use a set of scaffolded strategies to engage with texts in order to explore their meaning, discover their purpose, and find enjoyment in them as works of art.

At its core, close reading is a tiered process for unearthing the hidden meaning of a text through increasingly in-depth analysis.

With each reading, students are tasked with steadily rigorous activities, including:

  • Annotating the text (while searching for key information)
  • Answering increasingly difficult text-dependent questions that guide them to
    • Find the theme
    • Make connections to other texts, their own lives, and world events
    • Decipher the author’s purpose
    • Analyze the author’s tone
    • Determine the text’s mood
  • Engaging in conversations about the text with peers and working collaboratively to wrestle with the texts’ deeper meanings
  • Explaining the text and articulating opinions/arguments in writing (using the text to support their ideas)


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There’s a good reason that close reading is the talk of the education world: it’s a task that your students will have to use in their personal, professional, and academic lives forever (and ever… and ever…)! From textbooks, to Twitter feeds, to the SATs, to seemingly-inexplicable instructions at the DMV, complex texts will always be a part of your students’ lives. That is why teachers must equip them with the tools to analyze and make sense of any piece of writing they might encounter in their future.

Close reading lessons often go hand-in-hand with “paired texts” lessons. These two skills overlap and connect in many ways. Studies show that reading multiple texts on the same topic allows students to deepen their analysis through compare and contrast. Having multiple exposures to the same subject also widens students’ pool of background knowledge (which they will dip into when faced with the subject matter again).

Printable Close Reading Poetry Lesson Plan

Keeping that in mind, I designed the Humorous Poetry Close Reading Kit to help students analyze and make connections between two poems with similar themes. Perfect practice for middle schoolers, this engaging, close reading poetry lesson plan will encourage your angsty teens (who normally balk at the prospect of reading poetry) to:

  1. Analyze two complex poems about a similar topic
  2. Complete multiple reads of each text
  3. Practice their annotating skills
  4. Answer increasingly difficult text-dependent questions
  5. Reflect, write, and make connections across texts

In order to keep this article short and sweet, the printable poetry close reading kit includes student handouts, as well as a teacher instruction sheet that walks you through every step of the lesson plan. The Humorous Poetry Close Reading Kit includes:

  • Objectives of close reading lesson
  • Instructions for introducing texts and text-dependent questions
  • Instructions for introducing focus question
  • Instructions for introducing connected writing activity
  • Text 1: Early Rising by John G. Saxe
  • Student worksheet for Early Rising by John G. Saxe
  • Text 2: Ode to Work in Springtime by Thomas R. Ybarra
  • Student worksheet for Ode to Work in Springtime by Thomas R. Ybarra
  • Connect and Writing Activity


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In Summary

The fact of the matter is, teachers, that close reading is key to your students’ success both inside and outside the classroom. Whether they’re doing the ACTs, reading beauty blogs, or filling out job applications—virtually any time your students encounter a complex text, they’re going to need to reach into their close reading toolkit to find the deeper meaning of what they’re reading. Equip your students with the close reading skills they need to find purpose, pleasure, and meaning in any text, anywhere.

I hope the Humorous Poetry Close Reading Kit, Grades 7–8 will help you do just that. Using poems selected with the sole purpose of making your students chuckle, this lesson plan will be sure to engage your students, energize them for their next ELA lesson, and push them to deeper levels of textual analysis.

These texts will be sure to get your students laughing–once they dig in deep to figure out what they really mean!