Teaching Alliteration in Poems for High School Students

Poems with Alliteration


Teaching alliteration requires finding quality poetry that is challenging enough for upper level students. These examples will help you teach the purpose and effect of using alliteration in poetry.


ELA Common Core Standards Covered

Teaching alliteration in poems may cover the following ELA Common Core Standards.  This is for your administrator, not your kids.  Kids need student-friendly worded objectives.

  1. RL.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  2. RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
  3. RL.9-10.10 By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  4. L.9-10.6 Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

Key Points When Teaching Alliteration in Poetry

Before teaching alliteration in poems for high school students, it’s good to have some objectives in mind.

  1. Students should know what alliteration is, the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words. Simply knowing the definition, however, is not sufficient. It has no relevancy, inside or outside the classroom, if the learning stops here.
  2. Students should be able to identify examples of alliteration on their own. This, however, has little usefulness outside of an English class.
  3. Students should be able to explain the purpose for the alliteration and analyze how it contributes to the theme of the poem. Now students are developing critical thinking skills that will improve the quality of their thinking.
  4. They should be able to write poetry containing alliteration.
  5. Students should be able to use alliteration in their own writing to communicate more clearly. Now we’re talking mastery. Using alliteration and other literary devices to communicate more clearly brings them closer to being a master of words.

List of Recommended Poems with Assonance, Consonance, and Internal Rhyme

Begin teaching alliteration in poems for high schools students with the following.

  1. “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe – In addition to being a master of suspense with his short stories, Poe is a master of sound devices with his poems. Teaching alliteration in poems for high school students begins with Poe. Use this analyzing sound devices in poetry lesson plan (coming soon) to make the most of the master.
  2. “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Not exactly light reading–Coleridge delves into the world of the supernatural as the ancient mariner unburdens his soul with the telling of an horrific tale. This poem should be read and discussed as a class. I recommend an annotated version. Gothic images abound. Encourage participation by allowing students to respond in pictures and writing. Use these ideas (coming soon).
  3. “Clooney the Clown” by Shel Silverstein – Clooney the Clown has everything for the dramatic teenage soul: sadness, being misunderstood, depression. In addition to alliteration, “Clooney the Clown” makes a great poem for teaching irony.
  4. “Much madness is divinest sense” by Emily Dickinson – Dickinson, thought by many to be an insane recluse, gives her own version of madness. As a prereading activitiy, have students write a paragraph on what it means to be “mad.”
  5. “Birches” by Robert Frost – Frost glorifies youth with his symbolic portrayal of birches. Brainstorm a list of things students do that older people don’t (keep it clean).
  6. “Death be not Proud” by John Donne – Donne ponders death in one of his more famous sonnets. This makes a good poem for analysis and annotation.

Teaching Literary Elements with Poems

Understanding literary elements is necessary for literary analysis.  These poems will help you teach literary elements.

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