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Lesson Plans
Reading Reflections
3rd–5th Grade

CCSS Reading/Literature: RL.4.2, RL.5.2, RL.5.6
  • Determine a theme of a story, drama or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
  • Determine a theme of a story, drama or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
  • Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.
Materials Needed

Explain to students that, just as an author expresses ideas in the form of a story, a poet expresses thoughts and ideas in the form of a poem. Point out that, while a poem does not always have to rhyme, it consistently expresses a poet’s ideas or thoughts about a topic—often using very little space.

Challenge students to listen carefully as you read aloud a poem by Carl Sandburg called “Arithmetic.” Remind students that “arithmetic” is another word for “math.” Ask students to think about what the poet is trying to say and what theme, or “big idea,” he is trying to share about arithmetic/math.


  1. Display the “Arithmetic” poem (using the Read and Respond record) on a document camera or whiteboard. Ask, “Was there any part of this poem that stood out to you? What was your impression of the poet’s overall feeling about the subject of arithmetic?” Invite students to share their first impressions.
  2. Give each student a copy of the Read and Respond record. (Note that it contains a copy of the poem and some writing lines.) Explain to students that you would like them to read along with you as you read the poem again. Invite them to think about the message the poet is trying to convey.
  3. Point out that the writing lines on the page are provided next to the poem so that students may jot down their own thoughts and reactions to the poem. Explain that they can document similar experiences, questions for the poet or just emotional reactions. (For example, they could write, “I feel like that about science!” or “What do you mean by this?” or “This made me laugh!”)
  4. Ask students to follow along as you read the selection aloud again. Or invite student volunteers to read aloud one section at a time as the rest of the class follows along silently. Be sure to provide a little bit of time between stanzas for students to think about their responses and write them down.
  5. Following the reading, ask questions such as the following:
    • What is the poet’s attitude about arithmetic? How do you know? Solicit responses, and go back to the poem together to support students’ answers.
    • What are some examples of imagery (the use of words to put pictures in your mind) that the poet uses to describe how he feels about arithmetic? (Ask students to go back to the poem and find evidence for their answers.)
    • How does the poet use humor to convey his feelings? What examples of this can you point to in the poem? (Prompt students to respond by saying, “Go find it!”)
    • Do you identify with the poet’s feelings? Why or why not?
    • What do you think he is trying to say about the topic? What examples from the poem support this? (Say, “Go find it!”)
  6. Conclude the discussion by reinforcing to students that part of being a good reader is determining the poet’s (or author’s) viewpoint by looking carefully at details, asking questions and making connections to the text. Reinforce the idea of finding details to support answers.

Learning Extension

Invite students to create their own poem to share their thoughts on arithmetic (or any other academic subject they choose). Encourage them to use language and comparisons (in the form of metaphors and similes) that paint a picture, evoke emotion, and clearly convey their thoughts and feelings about the subject.

View the 3rd–5th grade lesson plan. (Includes all printable materials.)
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