I use this image, created on Wordle, to project a wordcloud of the language from the poem "Turtle" by Kay Ryan onto the screen. Students predict what today's poem will be about. Sometimes I even tell them that the title is hidden in the word cloud.
Naturally, as in most poems, some of these words have figurative meaning. After reading the poem twice, we discuss which nouns are used literally and which are used figuratively. What does the use of these figurative nouns add to the poem? Why use figurative language as a writer? What does it add to the experience of readers?
Brett Vogelsinger teaches freshman English students at Holicong Middle School in Doylestown, PA where he starts class with a poem each day. Follow his work on Twitter @theVogelman.