Mood and Tone: Poetry Lesson

Reading and writing lesson plan:

Lesson Plan Day 9 of Poetry Unit: Mood and Tone


·         SOL 7.5 The student will read and demonstrate comprehension of a variety of fiction, narrative nonfiction, and poetry.

c) Describe the impact of word choice, imagery, and poetic devices.

d) Explain how line structure form, including rhyme, rhythm, repetition, and punctuation, conveys the mood and meaning of a poem.


·         Outcomes: This lesson will focus on the author’s use of mood, tone, and word choice as well as theme and poetic devices.  Students will understand the difference between tone and mood by going through a variety of activities. They will analyze mood and tone and demonstrate the difference that word choice can make in a poem. Students will be given two poems with the same theme and compare and contrast the ways the poets convey those themes to the reader through the use of mood and word choice.  They demonstrate an understanding of this by completion of an essay.


·         Texts used: Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130,” by William Shakespeare, “To an Athlete Dying Young,” by A.E. Houseman, “Do not go Gently into that Good Night,” by Dylan Thomas.


·         Materials needed:

o    Smart board projections including notes, Venn diagram, and Shakespeare’s sonnet 130.

o    Copies of notes, lines for mood and tone graphic organizer, poems to be compared and contrasted, and writing prompt directions and rubric.

o    Computer with internet access and You tube URLs

o    Index cards with tone words on them.

o    Thesaurus


·         Warm-up/hook: A list of words will be on the board separated by tone/mood.  (Tone:  solemn, tense, sarcastic, serious, enthusiastic, fearful, hostile, humorous/ Mood: happy, confused, unhappy, angry, anxious, scared, uncertain, reassured, nervous, excited).  Students will view a clip form “Jaws” and choose three words form the tone column and three words from the mood column that describe the scene.  We will then discuss the findings.


·         Part 1: Discuss mood and tone as a whole group.

Students will be given T-chart notes (found below).  The difference between tone and mood will be discussed. Handout notes and go over them, give students time to brainstorm other words to fit into the chart, also discuss positive and negative connotations of the words by allowing students to mark (+) or (-) or (N) neutral.  Some background information:

o     Identifying tone and mood is important to understanding what the author is trying to convey to the reader as well as the theme of the poem. 

o    Tone is the author’s attitude toward his or her work or a character in the poem.  Tone can usually be summed up in one word: solemn, tense, sarcastic, serious, enthusiastic, fearful, hostile, formal, objective, personal, ironic, humorous, or impersonal. One way to think about tone is to think of a poem like a song.  Ask yourself: if this poem was set to music, what sort of music would it have?  For instance, a poem about losing a lover would probably have sad, emotional music, because this would fit its tone.  On the other hand, a poem about a beautiful morning would have a more energetic, positive tone.

o    Mood is the emotional atmosphere produced by an author’s use of language.  In the movies, it is achieved by special lighting, music, or sound effects as well as the actor’s tone.  In poetry, it is conveyed with words and phrases, imagery, figurative language, rhyme and rhythm. No one word describes the mood- it can be a feeling of doom, fear, pride, chaos, peace, or love, gloomy, imaginary, optimistic, pessimistic, silly, thought-provoking, sadness, courage…


Notes to be handed out:

Tone and mood convey meaning about a poem and help to identify the theme.

Tone (the author’s attitude toward his or her work or a character in the poem)

Mood( the emotional impact on the reader produced by the author’s choice of language and device)























Surprised guilty



Feeling of fear

Feeling of doom



·         Part 2: In order to understand mood and tone, students will perform a series of activities.


(1)   Students will be divided into small groups and each group will be given a card with one of the following words on it: sadness, courage, tension, sympathy, love, sarcasm, excitement, fear.   Students will write a description of a person walking a dog in the park according to the tone word they have been given. They may use a thesaurus as needed.  When they have finished with their descriptions, they will read them to the class and the class will try to guess what tone word they had.  We will also discuss how they decided to write their descriptions and the tools they used to convey the attitude of the description.


(2)   The original Mary Poppins theatrical trailer will be viewed first (released in 1964).  As they view, students will choose two or three tone words that convey the attitude of the piece as well as three mood words that describe their feelings about the piece.  After viewing we will discuss these words as well as how the makers chose certain scenes to convey the mood, and included sound effects and music.  We will then view the original scary Mary Poppins trailer and repeat the same activities in order for students to understand how mood and tone can change depending on the creator’s choices.  These differences will be depicted with a large graphic organizer on the smart board. (Original)  



(3)   I will show Shakespeare’s sonnet 130 on the smart board and students will follow along as I read it keeping in mind to look for any words that convey the tone of the piece. We will discuss the tone and mood the piece conveys and highlight the words that show the tone and convey the mood.  Then we will change this serious toned poem into one that conveys a humorous tone by changing the words.


Sonnet CXXX.

“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”

MY mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun


Coral is far more red than her lips’ red:


If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;


If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.


I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,


But no such roses see I in her cheeks;


And in some perfumes is there more delight


Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.


I love to hear her speak, yet well I know


That music hath a far more pleasing sound:


I grant I never saw a goddess go,—


My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:


  And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare


  As any she belied with false compare.




·         Part 3: Students will read two poems and complete a writing activity that compares and contrasts the mood and tone of the two poems.

Before Reading: Students will refer back to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 from the earlier activity and note the words that we highlighted that convey the tone and mood of the piece.  We will review how word choice makes a difference, as well as rhyme, rhythm, and other poetic devices.  Students will be told that they will be given two poems to read and both have the same theme: death and the choices that each poet makes in the poem, gives each poem a certain tone and mood. I will read the titles to the students and they will predict what they believe each poem will be about and what the tone and mood will be.  We will do this as a think/pair/share activity.


During Reading: As each poem is read, students will highlight the words they feel convey the tone and mood of the piece.  I will read each poem aloud once, and then students will reread them silently in order to refine their highlighted words.


To An Athlete Dying Young   by A. E. Housman

The time you won your town the race

We chaired you through the market-place;

Man and boy stood cheering by,

And home we brought you shoulder-high.


To-day, the road all runners come,

Shoulder-high we bring you home,

And set you at your threshold down,

Townsman of a stiller town.


Smart lad, to slip betimes away

From fields where glory does not stay,

And early though the laurel grows

It withers quicker than the rose.


Eyes the shady night has shut  

Cannot see the record cut,  

And silence sounds no worse than cheers 

After earth has stopped the ears:  


Now you will not swell the rout  

Of lads that wore their honours out,  

Runners whom renown outran  

And the name died before the man. 


So set, before its echoes fade,  

The fleet foot on the sill of shade,  

And hold to the low lintel up  

The still-defended challenge-cup.  


And round that early-laurelled head

Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,  

And find unwithered on its curls  

The garland briefer than a girl's.


Do not go gentle into that good night   by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


After reading:  Students will complete an organizer that details what words and lines reflect tone and mood in each poem.  They will then complete a Venn diagram on the back of the sheet that compares and contrasts each poem’s mood and tone.  These organizers will be used to guide them as they write their essay.

Name of poem:


Lines from the poem

This line reflects mood because…

This line reflects tone because…

This line is a combination of elements because…























Writing: Students will use their organizer and Venn depictions to guide them as they write about the two pieces.  They will be given directions and a rubric to follow as they write:


Directions for essay:

This essay will compare and contrast mood and tone of the two poems with the use of the prewriting organizers.  Your essay will be three paragraphs long- directions for each paragraph are below.

o    The first paragraph will discuss the first poem: What is it about? What tone and mood does the poem convey?  Specifically, what words or devices are used to convey that tone and mood?

o    The second paragraph will discuss the second poem and answer those same questions. 

o    The third paragraph will compare and contrast the poems.  What things do the poems have in common and what differences do the poems have in terms of mood and tone?

Some guiding questions that may help you…

o    What is the subject of the selections?

o    What word(s) could you use to sum up the attitude toward this subject that the author(s) are trying to communicate?

o    What words or images does the author use to communicate his/her attitudes?


Attach the organizers and these directions and rubric to your essay.







Organizer shows thought and correctly identifies lines used for mood and tone and Venn shows correct similarities and differences.





Written essay is three paragraphs long and follows directions





Essay correctly identifies the tone and mood of first poem (paragraph 1)





Essay correctly identifies the tone and mood of second poem (paragraph 2)





Third paragraph shows correct similarities and differences between the two poems





Essay demonstrates, thought and critical thinking skills





Essay shows a clear understanding of mood and tone in poetry





Correct writing and grammar conventions are followed





Total __________                               Grade__________



v  Closure: Students will work on essay until the end of class and it will be homework if not finished.  As students leave the room, they must tell me a mood or tone word that they have chosen to use for a poem in their essay.

v  Assessment:  Students will be assessed by observation and formal assessment.  I will observe them for understanding in the rewrite Shakespeare activity, note taking and discussion, Mary Poppins activity, and descriptions activity and assess their understanding of mood and tone.  The writing assignment and prewriting activities will be assessed according to the rubric above.