Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-12, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the life and work of one of America’s greatest poets, Emily Dickinson. After learning about Dickinson’s writing style and poetic devices typical of her poetry, students analyze another poem by the poet and present the poem and their findings to the class.  

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Participate in a KWL activity, sharing what they know and what they want to know about Emily Dickinson and her poetry, and later share what they learned.
  2. Watch a movie about Emily Dickinson to learn about her life and poetry.
  3. Use the Make-a-Map tool to identify poetic devices and elements typical of Dickinson’s poetry.
  4. Analyze poems for their poetic elements and devices.
  5. Present findings about the poem to the class.



device metaphor meter personification simile stanza vivid


Create a KWL chart on the whiteboard or on a large sheet of paper. Preview the movie Emily Dickinson to plan for any adaptations. Preview the Primary Source and Graphic Organizer tabs to plan for adaptations. Preview the Related Reading articles to plan for adaptations If students will be working offline, make copies of the Web Graphic Organizer.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Tell students that today they will watch a movie about the great American poet, Emily Dickinson. For background, you can read aloud or have students read the Way Back When Related Reading.  
  2. Present the KWL chart to the class. Ask students what they know about Emily Dickinson and her poetry. Jot their responses in the K column. Then ask what they hope to learn about Emily Dickinson and her poetry. Write responses in the W column of the KWL chart.
  3. Show the movie Emily Dickinson on an interactive whiteboard or other large display to the whole class once through without pausing.
  4. Next, if you have access to multiple computers or devices, divide the class into pairs and have them open the Make-a-Map feature within the movie. If you have limited access to computers or devices, students can make their concept maps offline using the Web Graphic Organizer.
  5. Pairs watch the movie again within the Make-a-Map feature. As they watch, have them construct a concept map identifying the tone, style, poetic devices, etc. that Dickinson used in her poetry, and examples of each from the featured poem “A Bird came down the Walk”. Suggest that they pause the movie as they create their concept maps and remind them they can incorporate clips from the movie into their maps.  When they are done, have each pair share their maps with another pair to ensure that they captured all the information.  If students are working offline, have them take notes on the Web Graphic Organizer as you replay the movie on the whiteboard.
  6. Invite pairs to practice analyzing Dickinson’s poem, “The grass so little has to do” by completing the Primary Source activity. When they are done, have students share their responses with the rest of the class.
  7. Now working with the same pairs, or independently, have students select another poem by Emily Dickinson from the poet’s page at The Poetry Foundation. Using what they’ve learned about the poet and her poetry, have them analyze the poem, identifying the meter, style, effect, and examples of poetic devices. For help with poetry terminology, encourage students to reference the Etc Related Reading .  
  8. Invite students to present the poem they select and their analysis to the class.
  9. Lastly, return to the KWL chart, and invite students to share what they learned. Jot their responses on in the L column.

Extension Activities:

Invite students to write a poem using some of the elements they learned about today. Like Emily Dickinson, encourage them to choose a subject from everyday experiences, such as an observation in nature or their thoughts and feelings about something in their lives. Encourage them to use the Star Diagram to compose their stanzas and to ensure they are using a range of poetic devices. After students share their poems with the class, collect them in a book of class poetry to share with the school.