Poetry Strategies with Mrs. Izzo

Words I Know Strategy, Figurative Language

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The Cormorant... Story Behind My WORDS I KNOW Strategy by Michelle Izzo

EOG time, standing over a student, watching as she struggled with a poem that involved Shore Birds. The word CORMORANT was circled and question marks were everywhere. This young lady was stuck on this one word------> CORMORANT! All summer I wracked my brain, thinking what could I have done differently to makes sure students do not struggle with a single word on an EOG or when reading a poem. If only the student had focused on the words she DID know! That was it! Why not write all of the IMPORTANT WORDS I DO KNOW, Line-by-Line, and then re-read the Important Words I do know? I have utilized this strategy for 6 years now, and students have remarked how it has helped them understand the poetry presented to them in standardized testing. Vocabulary is often the impeding factor while reading and analyzing poetry. Our brains shut down when we read words we do not know how to pronounce, or when we come across words we are not familiar with. This is the story of WORDS I KNOW Strategy.
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Poetry and Figurative Language TERMS


Lines are very different than Stanzas. Lines compose the stanza, which is a poem paragraph.

Stanzas from Reading Sage

Stanza In a poem, a grouping of lines set off by a space.

Stanzas are like paragraphs in a poem.

Here are two stanzas of a poem:

Mary had a little lamb,

little lamb, little lamb,

Mary had a little lamb,

whose fleece was white as snow.

And everywhere that Mary went,

Mary went, Mary went,

and everywhere that Mary went,

the lamb was sure to go.


A way of viewing things, an attitude or position from which something is observed.


Part of speech, figurative language that compares two different things using "like" or "as".

She chews "like" a cow. "She chews as loudly as a cow."


A figure of speech that uses an image or story to represent an idea or quality. "Her eyes were glistening diamonds!" Saying something "IS" something else, to create imagery for the reader.


Repeating the same sound at the beginning of two or more words in a row. Sally sells seashells by the seashore.


An extreme exaggeration or overstatement. "I caught a fish as big as a Mac Truck."


An accepted expression is given language that is not grammatically standard or cannot be understood from the meaning of the individual words. "It is raining cats and dogs!" or "She heard it straight from the horse's mouth!"


Sound words, they imitate the sound they describe! Cuckoo, buzz, zoom, hiccup, bang, zip, splash, pow, whoosh, vroom!


Giving animals, objects, or concepts human characteristics. "The tree reached out to brush Lily's face as she cried."


A regularly occurring physical motion or pattern of speech. Poems usually have a rhythm.


The feeling or atmosphere of a written work. Think to yourself, "How does this selection or poem make ME feel?"



How an author uses words to show you how he/she feels about the topic of their written work. Tone is how the author feels.


Is the THE MESSAGE or lesson the poem is trying to convey. Themes can be tried out on many pieces of different literature, movies, songs. If it is really a theme, it applies to more than one written work.
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