"Iamb" — A Poet

Subject: Language Arts
Grades: 4-6

Idiomatic expressions are a great way to introduce students to rhyming couplets. In this lesson plan, students are introduced to both rhyming couplets and idioms, and then write original couplets, using idiomatic expressions they have learned.

Students will:
· Learn the definition of “idiom”
· Learn the meaning of “couplet” and “iambic pentameter”
· Compose a couplet using an idiomatic expression

IRA/NCTE Standards for the English Language Arts
Standard 4:
Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
Standard 6: Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.

Materials Needed
· (Optional) WordTeasers: Idioms

Getting Started
Write the following rhyming couplet on the chalkboard:

My mom says that my room’s a mess.
But I just shrug; I couldn’t care less.

Call upon a volunteer to read the couplet out loud. Ask students what they notice about these two lines. (The last word in the first sentence rhymes with the last word in the second sentence.) Explain to students that these two lines are called a couplet. A couplet is a type of poem with two rhyming lines. The two lines go together to make a complete thought. What does this couplet tell us about the author?

Next, write the following line on the chalkboard, using the idiomatic expressing “barking up a wrong tree”:

You’re barking up a wrong tree.

Ask students if they know what the expression “barking up a wrong tree” means. (Make a wrong guess about something.) Explain to students that barking up a wrong tree is an idiomatic expression or idiom. An idiom is a phrase in English that doesn’t mean exactly what the individual words might suggest. Tell students they can think of idioms as expressions that have hidden meanings.

As a class, write a second line to form a couplet, using the sentence (and idiomatic expression), “You’re barking up a wrong tree.” For example:

You’re barking up a wrong tree.
If you think you can borrow any money from me.

Then give students time to write their own rhyming couplet, using the idiom “barking up a wrong tree.” Then, have volunteers read their couplets. Call on others to explain the meaning of each rhyme.

Distribute the WordTeasers: Idioms Challenge Cards to students (or write a list of idioms on the chalkboard). Tell students they are going to write a couplet, using an idiomatic expression. Give students time to complete the assignment. Then have each student read his or her couplet. Ask students if they can pick out the idiomatic expression in each couplet.

Tell students that there is another kind of couplet called a heroic couplet. The heroic couplet is written in a poetic form called iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter describes a particular type of rhythm in a line of poetry. It sounds like this:

dee DUM dee DUM dee DUM dee DUM dee DUM

Or this:
good-bye good-bye good-bye good-bye good-bye

Explain that an iamb consists of two syllables, the first one short, the second one long, such as in dee DUM or in the word “good-bye” or in the phrase “I am.” Also, explain that pentameter means there are five feet or clusters of two syllables in the each line of poem. Write the following sentences on the chalkboard. Which one is an example of iambic pentameter? (My friends all say I have the gift of gab.)

It’s raining cats and dogs today.
My friends all say I have the gift of gab.
It’s time for me to hit the hay.

Can students write a second line to conclude this couplet?

Next Week: Get Ready for the SATs with WordTeasers: College Prep

Source: WordTeasers: Idioms — an educational game designed to get kids talking, laughing, thinking, writing…and improving language arts skills. Ages 9+ . Available at SchooDoodle.com.

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