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Knoxville, Tennessee – Poem Model Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-WCP0063
Submitted by: Monica Wagner
Email: mlw8993@worldnet.att.net
School/University/Affiliation: Lutheran High School, Indianapolis, Indiana. Date: April 11, 1999 

Grade Level(s): 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12


  • Language Arts/Writing (composition)

Duration: 45 minutes Description: After reading the poem Knoxville, Tennessee by Nikki Giovanni, students will use the poem as a model to write poems of their own.

Goals: To write a poem of their own creation, using Giovanni’s as a model.


1. Review and demonstrate knowledge of the poetic concept of speaker

2. Identify specific phrases in the poem that identify the speaker of the poem.

3. Identify words and phrases in the poem that indicate the speaker’s attitude about the season of summer.

4. Write a poem of their own, imitating the form and language of the model poem.


  • Text of a poem by Giovanni, Nikki. Knoxville, Tennessee. Understanding Literature. New York, London: Scribner, McMillan, and Collier, 1987.
  • Other sample poems which imitate the original poem
  • Plain white paper or construction paper.

Procedure: 1. As a class, read the poem together.
2. After reading the poem, define the term poetic speaker (the persona the author assumes in a given poem).
3. Determine as a class the age, gender, etc. of the speaker of Knoxville, Tennessee by identifying phrases from the
poem that would indicate the identity of the speaker.
4. Discuss the words and phrases in the poem that show the speaker’s attitude toward the season of summer.
5. Discuss the form of the poem–note items such as punctuation and word placement in the free verse poem. How do these things add to the identity of the speaker and the speaker’s attitude?
6. The student’s written assignment is to write a poem of their own about their favorite season, using the poem they just read as a model. They are to keep the free verse form and the first two lines similar: I always like (season) best
Also, they should imitate Giovanni’s free verse form, using placement of words for emphasis and similar punctuation.
7. As an added step, you can have students recopy and decorate the poem on the plain white or construction paper to post in the room. Keep the term decorate loose–it can either mean illustrating the poem, or putting decorative borders and other decorative items (stickers, computer clip art, etc.) on the final copy of the poem.


I usually assess the poem based on how closely the student followed the specific requirements regarding the form of the poem. It could also be checked as a part of a portfolio, or simply given a grade for completing the assignment.