Poetry Unit


As with other genre studies, we devote 1-2 days to drafting. By now you and your students have many poems “percolating” in your notebooks. It is time to choose 5-6 to draft and continue to refine outside of your notebook. Like the poetry we’ve been reading, these might have a common theme or subject matter, or they may be completely unrelated.

In poetry—as in many genres—it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between notebook work and a first draft. In fact, many beginning writers say that their notebook entries are drafts. Experienced writers recognize a sometimes subtle but important difference. Notebook work is often a jumble of first thoughts while a draft is more intentional. When we draft a poem, we begin to make strategic and concise choices about language, rhythm and form. We are conscious of the message or meaning we wish to convey, aware of how we wish to affect readers. This may mean that our notebook work and drafts appear visually similar, but writers at this stage will begin to talk about their work differently—with evidence of their intents and a deepening understanding of their poems (and poetry in general) easily apparent.

To help students differentiate between notebook thinking and drafting, we often ask students to draft on loose paper outside of their notebooks or on a computer.

Some images of notebook entries and drafts are provided in the PDF attachments below, though remember that the telltale difference between them is more easily seen through conversation with the author. We have provided annotations on the images to help provide some context. You may need to click on the icon of the yellow sticky notes inside the PDF to view the comments we’ve provided.

Teacher Try-It:

Type up a few of your poems, maybe applying more than one craft strategy to each.


Sign up for our Newsletter
Help Us Reach 20,000 Students Annually