Teaching the difference between prose, poetry, and drama can be seemingly simple, yet I find that my students struggle with the concept each year. I have found that using one topic to teach all three structures is most beneficial. I’m sharing the lessons and resources (some affiliate links) I use with the story of Anne Frank to teach the structure of poetry, prose, and drama (CCSS.RL.4.5, CCSS.RL.5.5)
I always start with prose, because it’s (in my opinion) the easiest. Your first lesson will differ depending on if your students have heard of Anne Frank before or not. Mine (in fifth grade) typically have not heard of her before, so I start from scratch.
I start by showing this Brainpop video to introduce Anne Frank. (Think of this as the activator to your lesson) This sparks some great discussion, and allows me to elaborate and explain to my students Anne’s importance in history. I allow my students to ask questions to gain a foundational understanding of Anne Frank and the Holocaust.
Next, I read A Picture Book of Anne Frank aloud to my students. Again, I allow them to ask questions to gain a deeper understanding. Depending on the age of your students, you will need to gauge how in-depth you want to go with your discussion of the Holocaust. My students learn about the Holocaust in fifth grade social studies, so it intertwines well.
After the read-aloud, we pause our discussion of Anne Frank, and fill out the flipbook. These notes are super simple. We fill out the description section for prose, poetry, and drama, but leave the examples blank at first. Students then glue the flipbook into their notebooks, but keep the page open on their desks. This flipbook is a free download – click here to snag yours!
Most of the time, students will make lots of connections as we’re filling in the notes (which is perfect). Once the flipbook is filled in, I recap A Picture Book of Anne Frank, and we decide as a class which category this book would fit in. Obviously it is an example of prose, and we discuss the elements of prose that the story portrays. Last, we add this example to our notes.
More prose options for the story of Anne Frank:
After our full dive into prose, we continue our discussion of Anne Frank with a drama. I’ve used this play the last few years and it works perfectly! It’s super long, so I usually just take a chunk from it, and we read through it as a class. If you have time it would be great to let your kids act it out! I like to also show some of the provided images of the play to my kids to give them some visuals!
Once we’ve read through part of the Anne Frank play, we discuss the elements of the text, and which category it is an example of (drama). Then, we put this example into our flipbooks. Since there are two examples in the flipbook at this point, I like to really prompt my students to compare and contrast the two. I guide them in thinking about how even though the topic is the same in all the texts we’ve read, the structure is extremely different.
Poetry is tricky, but most students are familiar with poetry which helps. To go along with the story of Anne Frank, I use the poem titled, “Hope” from this website (these poems are actually written by schoolchildren). We read through the poem together, and talk about the meaning. At this point in the lessons my students can usually make a quick connection to Anne Frank and her experiences. We discuss the speaker of the poem, and how his or her experiences are similar to Anne Frank’s experiences.
Next, we pick out (annotate if time allows) all of the poetic devices, figurative language, etc. that we can find in the poem. We discuss how the topic of the poem is similar to the story of Anne Frank, and the play, but the structure of the content is very different.
Lastly, we add this poem to the examples section of our flipbook.
I allow a TON of time for discussion and reflection during these lessons, because I think it’s the most valuable part for my students. I really want them to see the same or similar information, presented in three different structures. The differences between poetry, prose, and drama are much more apparent to kids when you use the same topic across the board. I also find that the story of Anne Frank, although heavy, is typically of high interest to my students.
If you’re teaching mood & tone in literature, check out this blog post with a free download and lesson plan!