The Flip Side: Flipping poetry on its head

I am a (not so secret) poetry junkie. The pictures poetry can paint, the powerful messages they scream or whisper, and their unhampered relationship with language makes it difficult not to love them. In the classroom poetry can provide a positive, welcome gateway to language, making it accessible and building students’ confidence by toying with the often rigid conventions so frequently associated with language learning. Metaphor, musicality, mood, alliteration, rhythm and rhyme, poems provide so much scope for exploration. The perfect fit for any language classroom!

My C2 group have recently been exploring literary devices, working on using more figurative language when giving descriptions. Examining different narratives, I thought it would be interesting to explore narrative poetry. So here is a lesson plan looking at antonyms and oxymorons through poetry.

Lesson Overview

C2 learners will identify antonyms from a word cloud and record them in context. They then study a poem by the magnificent Brian Bilston based on oxymorons before discussing to what extent they believe the oxymorons to be true opposites and to think about grading antonyms on a cline. Having had the opportunity to then create their own examples of oxymorons and present them to fellow students, students then watch an animated video of the poem “The Opposites Game by Brendan Constantine, discussing their ideas before recreating their own ‘opposite poems’ based on Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken”.

Download the lesson plan below and click here for the Slides presentation.

While the language in this lesson is not suitable for lower level language learner, this could be easily adapted by using simpler antonyms and selected lines of poetry or even another text type such as song lyrics or even a WhatsApp conversation.

Thanks to my ELTLessonJam bandmates for helping me fine tune this lesson.

2 thoughts on “The Flip Side: Flipping poetry on its head

  1. Hi Olivia, this is such a wonderful lesson idea. I stumbled on it when I was searching for lesson ideas on the theme of poetry, over at the Freeed platform. You had shared one at a lesson jam. It is such a great find. Do you have any other ideas? I want to create an inspiring lesson compilation based on poetry and share it with the teachers over at Freeed ELT community. So would love to have you share some ideas there. Again, I really enjoyed reading this post.


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