Sonic Patterns: Exploring Poetic Techniques through Close Reading

Lesson Introduction

In addition to developing background knowledge about allusions and the etymology of key words, students use an online tool to examine the relationship between the speaker and his father in Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays.” Then students explore how the poet uses consonance, assonance, and alliteration to illustrate this complex relationship. Finally students use the idea of a composed memory and their knowledge of sonic patterns to draft, revise, and share their own original text.

Learning Objectives

In this lesson, students will have opportunities to:

  • Understand sonic patterns and the tools poets use (such as assonance, consonance, and alliteration) to manipulate relationships between sound and meaning.
  • Conduct research about etymology and allusion and apply that knowledge to a reading of a poem.
  • Learn how to use their own voices as interpretive instruments as they explore and construct meaning aloud.
  • Apply knowledge of sonic patterning to compose and revise original texts.

Materials and Resources

To teach this lesson, you will need:

  • Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden
  • colored markers for overhead (optional)
  • colored highlighters for students (optional)
  • an overhead projector and transparencies or an LCD
  • Bio Cube: a useful summarizing tool that helps students identify and list key elements about a person for a biography or autobiography
  • The Poetry Foundation (website)
  • printouts
Lesson provided by, a website developed by the International Reading Association and the N.C.T.E.

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