Expository Poetry
Timothy G. Weih, Ph.D.
University of Northern Iowa, USA
January 2017

Literacy Engagement

As students work with the Expository Poetry Strategy (influenced by Fleer, 2002) in small, collaborative, mixed ability groups, they will be engaged in learning the following components of literacy: vocabulary, reading fluency, reading comprehension, listening comprehension, discussion fluency, writing fluency, presentation fluency, and in addition, collaboration skills.

Preparing Materials for Teaching

The teacher can select any expository text found typically within the following examples: a book, newspaper, textbook, magazine article, brochure, catalogue, or any text available online as long as it is expository. Make sure all students have a copy or access to the online text.

The teacher will need to create a premade example of the product of the strategy, which will include a list of nouns and related verbs to match them and the Expository Poem made from the matched nouns and verbs developed into sentences.

Note: Since students will be working in collaborative teams on this strategy, it is important for the teacher to create and assign mixed ability teams ahead of time.

Instructional Delivery

Definition. Teachers explain to students that expository text is writing that is intended to explain ideas. This writing contains key vocabulary words that help readers to understand and form meaning from what they are reading. Vocabulary words can be taken from an expository text and further defined using poetry. Tell students that they will be reading an expository text, taking key vocabulary words from the text, and forming a type of Free Verse poem (does not rhyme) with the words.

Benefits. Teachers explain to students the purpose of learning the strategy is to improve their subject vocabulary knowledge, subject content knowledge, reading comprehension, writing fluency, and collaborative work skills.

Academic Applications. Teachers inform students that they can use this strategy for studying expository text more carefully for the sake of learning the information more deeply. What they learn could then be applied when they are taking a quiz, test, or working on a different project.

Modeling. Teachers show students an example of a list of nouns and connected verbs along with the Expository Poem that they have created from a text that covers a topic the students would all have some background knowledge about. The teacher reads some of the original text aloud to the students. The Expository Poem (see Figures 1 and 2) shown here was influenced by the book Super Storms (Simon, 2002).

Figure 1. The List of Nouns and Verbs

Thunderstorms (n.) are (v.)
Rain (n.) gushes (v.)
Lightening bolts (n.) shoot (v.)
Thunder (n.) crashes (v.)

Teachers inform students that they can add more adjectives that describe the noun and ending words after the verb, as well as more nouns, from the reading selection as needed to further explain what is happening with the main noun or subject of the sentence.

Figure 2. The Expository Poem

Storms by Timothy G. Weih

Thunderstorms are born.
Heavy rain gushes from the clouds.
Lightening bolts shoot across the sky.
Thunder crashes in my ears.

Guided Practice. Teachers have students get into their preassigned teams. Assign each team of students a different portion of a text that they all have in front of them. Pass out to each team the following set of directions or display on the classroom screen for all to see:

1. Read the passage silently.
2. Reread the passage aloud in your teams using Whisper Reading and Choral Reading together (teachers see Oral Reading Fluency Instruction in References).
3. Talk with your team members about which nouns and related verbs are important from the passage and would make an interesting poem. Each person is responsible for writing this list on his or her own paper or computer. Try to find 4-6 nouns and 4-6 related verbs.
4. Write the poem by making sentences. Each sentence has a noun with a related verb, and you can use other words from the text to create the sentences. You will have 4-6 sentences. Each person is responsible for writing the poem on his or her own paper or computer.

Check for Understanding. Teachers walk around each team while they are working. Observe them closely to make sure they are following the directions. Answer questions and give guidance as needed. Stop their work if a lot of students are confused and reteach the problem areas.

Closure. Teachers have students chorally read their poems aloud to the class.

Review: Teachers have students do a Quick Write (see Discussion Strategies...in the References) about what they learned about this strategy

Adaptations (differentiation). For students with special needs, teachers could use one or more of the following adaptations or modifications:

1. Create an Expository Poem together, as a whole class before assigning team work
2. Use below grade level text
3. Make a worksheet that matches with the directions
4. Have them work paired with a more advanced reader/writer
5. Allow more time for project completion

Evaluation. For evaluation purposes, teachers could use one or more of the following methods:

1. Closely observe students while they are working and record anecdotal notes regarding their discussion and collaboration abilities
2. Collect each student's written poem and evaluate for writing mechanics, grammar, vocabulary, and subject area comprehension
3. Observe students reading aloud their poems and record anecdotal notes regarding their oral reading fluency
4. Collect each student's Quick Write and evaluate what they think they learned about the strategy

Closing Comments

The Expository Poetry Strategy could be extended into an arts-based lesson by having students write their poems onto posters and illustrating them. Students could then publish their work by putting the posters in the school or community social areas for public display.


Fleer, M. (2002). "Beyond pink is a rose." The Quarterly, 24(4).

Simon, S. (2002). Super storms. New York, NY: Scholastic.

Weih, T. G. (2016). Discussion strategies for the inclusion of all students. ERIC: Institute of Education Sciences (ED561060).

Weih, T. G. (2015). Oral reading fluency instruction for grades K-3. Saching.com.

For Further, Related Instructional Information, see the following sources:

Weih, T. G. (2015). Reading comprehension instruction for grades K-3. Saching.com.

Weih, T. G. (2015). Literature-based content writing instruction for grades K-3. Saching.com.

Copyright © 2017 Timothy G. Weih, Ph.D.
University of Northern Iowa, USA

About Author / Additional Info:
Timothy G. Weih is an associate professor of education at the University of Northern Iowa, USA, and teaches elementary teaching methods courses.