Most language and literature teachers find poetry as the most difficult genre to teach. To provide a workable and practical solution to this perennial problem, I have conceptualized and implemented in my classroom an innovative technique called Poetry Reading Buddies (PRB).

PRB is an enriched and eclectic technique which can be applied and assigned to the three phases of poetry reading: pre-reading, while-reading, and post-reading. It implements an enriched reading buddy scheme where students engage in varied collaborative activities; proposes varied activities that cater to the students’ varying interests and differentiated learning styles; employs visual, audiovisual and multimedia materials to enrich the learning experiences; and caters to developing the learners’ 21st century skills: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication.

This post focuses on pre-PRB activities which include picture prompts, title-guessing rebus game, and author’s biographical video capsule.


Pre-Poetry Reading Activities

Picture Prompts

The teacher uses a set of pictures closely related to the theme and/or subject of the poem to be discussed. For example, the pictures below will prepare students understanding of the topic about the human life cycle.

This motivational technique seeks to prompt meaningful responses from the students. The number of pictures depends primarily on the poem’s level of complexity and the students’ poetry reading comprehension skills. More pictures are necessary for students with poorer comprehension skills.

1. The teacher shows or posts the set of visual prompts in the class.

poetry reading activities
Picture A
Picture B
Picture C

2. Working in dyads, the students study and interpret the pictures. Each student shares his/her impressions and insights about them with his/her partner.

3. After a minute, the teacher asks two to three dyads to discuss with the class their insights and impressions about the pictures.

Title-Guessing Rebus Game

This game seeks to test the students’ abstract reasoning and spatial skills. It is a riddle which provides pictures of objects or symbols that resemble the sounds of the intended words or syllables in the poem’s title.

  1. The teacher shows or posts the set of pictures which present the rebus game.
  2. Working in dyads, the students figure out the answer to the riddle. The pair to guess out the answer first is given bonus points.
  3. A member of the winning dyad shows to the rest of the class how they figure out the answer.

4. The teacher proclaims the title to the class.

Author’s Biographical Video Capsule

It is a video clip which encapsulates the key biographical details of the author of the poem to be discussed. The teacher may download the video from YouTube if it is available, or create his/her own video using Moviemaker or other video editing tools.

Ideally, the video is shown twice on projected screen to accommodate the whole class. This enrichment activity seeks to input key biographical details of the author that would later aid the students in the literary analysis.

1. The teacher facilitates the video clip viewing.

2. Working in dyads, the students answer a brief completion test which assesses their grasp of the video clip. Sample completion test items may include:

  • William Shakespeare was born in _______________.
  • He was believed to be born on _______________.
  • He was married to _______________.
  • One of Shakespeare’s twin sons named _____________ died.
  • In 1599, he built the largest open-air amphitheater named _______________.
  • His plays are categorized as histories, comedies, tragedies, and _______________.


Pre-poetry reading activities can help the learner to be more prepared for what they are about to read. Not only that it can help them anticipate the topic of the reading but it can also prepare themselves for the kind of language, vocabulary, and even grammar that might be used in the text.

What’s next?

Check out these powerful while-reading and post-reading activities!

Contributed by Mark Bonabon

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Pre, While and Post reading activities