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Cetaceans 4 Grade Curriculum—Lesson 10: Summarizing What We Know about Cetaceans

Maia Patterson McGuire and Ruth Francis-Floyd


Students will learn about different types of poetry and write poems to express what they know about whales and dolphins.


By the conclusion of the activities, students will be able to:

  • Describe at least two different types of poetry
  • Differentiate between the basic structures of poems
  • Write an original poem reflecting their knowledge of cetaceans

What You Will Need

  • Copies of Examples of Poems (pages 10-5 to 10-6) for each student
  • Copies of Poetry Planning Worksheet (page 10-7) for each student
  • Cetacean fact sheets, computers with Internet access, and/or cetacean reference books


Florida Sunshine State Standards

English Language Arts

  • ELA.4.V.1.1 Use grade-level academic vocabulary appropriately in speaking and writing

Common Core Standards


  • W.4.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • W.4.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
  • W.4.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
  • W.4.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • L.4.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal precise actions, emotions, or states of being (e.g., quizzed, whined, stammered) and that are basic to a particular topic (e.g., wildlife, conservation, and endangered when discussing animal preservation).


  1. Explain to students that the class will be learning about different types of poetry, and that each student will be writing a poem.
  2. Ask the students what they know about poems or poetry. Write responses (e.g., poems have words that rhyme) on the board.
  3. Explain that there are many different types of poems. All are creative ways of expressing thoughts, facts, or emotions. Some poems can be funny, and some can be sad. Some have lines that rhyme, while others do not.
  4. Hand out copies of Examples of Poems to each student.
  5. Either read, or select students to read aloud, the explanation of each type of poem and the example on the sheets. Carefully explain the structure of each type of poem.
  6. Make sure that students know what a syllable, synonym, adjective, and noun are.
  7. Tell students that they will be writing poems about cetaceans. They should use knowledge and information that they have gained from the first lessons in the curriculum when writing their poems (i.e., the poems should contain facts and not be completely fictional).
  8. Give each student a copy of the Poetry Planning Worksheet and any reference materials you want them to have (fact sheets from this curriculum, computers with Internet access, books, etc.).
  9. Ask students to complete the planning worksheet.
  10. Once students have selected a topic, done some research, and chosen a type of poem, have them write the first draft of their poems.
  11. Divide students into small groups and have them read their draft poems aloud to each other. Remind them that these poems are DRAFTS, which means that others in the group may have suggestions to improve the poems. Encourage students to be constructive and specific with their criticism. Remind them that different people often have different opinions about things, so there are no "right" or "wrong" creative opinions in this exercise. The author of the poem may choose to take advice from others in the group or stick with the original draft version of the poem.
  12. Once everyone in the group has read their poem and received feedback, allow some time for students to revise their poems if they wish.
  13. Allow students to illustrate their poems. This may be done by hand or digitally (using Word, PowerPoint, or Publisher to create a poster that incorporates the poem as well as graphics).
  14. A grading rubric is provided on page 3.


Activity modified from Multipurpose Poetry: Introducing Science Concepts and Increasing Fluency (

Grading rubric modified from one created by Christine Lewy and accessed at

Examples of Poems

Taken from


Poetry in which the first letters of the lines, when read vertically, spell out a word. The word is usually the subject of the poem.


As I eat it on my brownie

Not doubting it's sweet

Ice cream is a tasty treat

Lots of lingering taste

Lasting to the end

Always my favorite!


A poem with five lines. Each has a required number of syllables and a specific topic.

Line 1: Title (noun)—two syllables

Line 2: Description—four syllables

Line 3: Action—six syllables

Line 4: Feeling (phrase)—eight syllables

Line 5: Title (synonym for the title)—two syllables


Pretty, fragrant

Waiting, watching, weeding

Enjoying all the while they grow



Rhyming poems of four lines. Poets use letters to express the rhyme pattern or scheme. The four types of quatrain rhyme are AABB (shown in the example), ABAB, ABBA, and ABCB.

Picnic planning in July

Traveling up the mountains so high!

What an adventure for me

Because I prefer mountains to sea!


A whimsical poem with five lines. Lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme with each other and lines 3 and 4 rhyme with each other. Rhyme pattern: AABBA.

A flea and a fly in a flue

Were caught, so what could they do?

Said the fly, "Let us flee."

"Let us fly," said the flea.

So they flew through a flaw in the flue.


Diamond-shaped poems of seven lines that are written using parts of speech.

Line 1: Noun or subject

Line 2: Two adjectives

Line 3: Three "-ing" words

Line 4: Four words about the subject

Line 5: Three "-ing" words

Line 6: Two adjectives

Line 7: Synonym for the subject


Safe, caring

Loving, sharing, talking

Friendship, food, car, travels

Living, loving, enjoying

Joyous, adventurous


Concrete/Shape Poem

Poem that forms a visible picture on the page. The shape usually reflects the subject of the poem.

Trees blossoming in the spring

Clouds above give rain

Fruit will come soon

Nature is at work





Free Verse

Poetry without rules of form, rhyme, rhythm, or meter.

What do the oceans do at night?

Do they tease and tickle the bottom of boats?

Do they ripple away in fright?

Or are the beaches like coats

That keep them still and quiet

And once the day breaks and it's breakfast time

Do the oceans wish for some other diet than fish?

Poetry Planning Worksheet

  1. What will your poem be about? You can choose one species of cetacean, a group of cetaceans, or cetaceans in general. Write your answer in the space below.
  2. Use reference materials (fact sheets, Internet, books) to do some research about your cetacean to use in your poem. Write down at least three interesting facts about your cetacean(s). Use these questions as starting points: What does it look like (size/color/appearance)? Where does it live? What does it eat? Does it have any unusual behaviors?
  3. What type of poem do you want to write? Use the Examples of Poems sheet to help you choose a type of poem.
Table 1. 

Poetry Rubric












Uses an inappropriate poetic form.

Used an appropriate poetic form, but not very effectively.

Effectively uses an appropriate poetic form.

Creatively uses an appropriate poetic form.


Word Usage

Student's use of vocabulary is very basic.

Student's use of vocabulary is more telling than showing.

Student's use of vocabulary is routine and workable.

Student's use of vocabulary is precise, vivid, and paints a strong, clear, and complete picture in the reader's mind.


Language Conventions (spelling, grammar, punctuation)

May contain numerous errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation that interfere with the reader's understanding.

May contain many errors in spelling, grammar, and/or punctuation that may interfere

with the reader's understanding.

Has mainly grade-level appropriate spelling, grammar, and punctuation; contains a few errors that do not interfere with the reader's understanding.

Has grade-level appropriate spelling, grammar, and punctuation; contains few, if any, errors; errors do not interfere with the reader's understanding.



Student's work shows a lack of understanding of the assignment.

Student's work demonstrates some understanding of the assignment.

Student's work demonstrates an understanding of the assignment.

Student's work demonstrates a complete understanding of the assignment and goes beyond the requirements.



Lacks an illustration.

Uses an illustration that may add to the poem's meaning.

Uses an illustration to enhance the poem's meaning.

Uses an illustration effectively and creatively to enhance the poem's meaning.




Publication #VM235

Release Date:January 18, 2023

Related Experts

McGuire, Maia


University of Florida

Francis-Floyd, Ruth


University of Florida

  • Critical Issue: 7. 4-H Youth Development

About this Publication

This document is VM235, one of a Cetaceans 4th Grade Curriculum series of the Veterinary Medicine—Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date June 2019. Revised January 2023. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Maia Patterson McGuire, Sea Grant Extension agent, UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns and Flagler Counties; and Ruth Francis-Floyd, professor, Extension veterinarian, UF College of Veterinary Medicine and School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Maia McGuire