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Poetry Analysis and TPCASTT

Poetry is potentially the most expressive forms of literature. It evokes emotions, sets a moods, tell a stories, and creates deep and deep and universal feelings in its readers. However, this same quality makes poetry more difficult to parse than prose, and can be frustrating to unpracticed students.

Teaching students to look at a poem with an order of operation in mind gives them a framework to start their analysis. TPCASTT stands for title, paraphrase, connotation, attitude/tone, shift, title, theme. This method is great to start students reading and inferring with little assistance from the instructor. TPCASTT poetry analysis reinforces key themes and ensures that students grasp the important concepts of each poem. Use some or all of the activities in this teaching guide to get your students excited about poetry!

Our Recommended TPCASTT Lesson Plan

This lesson will overview the TPCASTT system of interpreting poetry and provide students a system of hypothesis and discovery. This will help students to engage with the subtleties of poetry, beyond the face of the text.

Grade Level: 3-12


Although this lesson can be used in many grade levels, the Common Core State Standards for grades 9-10 are listed below. Please see your Common Core State Standards for the correct grade appropriate strands.

  • ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1: Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  • ELA-Literacy.RL.7.1: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  • ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1: Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  • ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text

Time: Two 45-Minute Class Meetings

Lesson Specific Essential Questions

  1. How do great writers create a mood that a reader can feel through their work?
  2. What are the parts of a poem and how can we learn to analyze its meaning?
  3. What is the importance of the title of a poem?
  4. How do literary elements affect a reader's understanding of a work of literature?


Students will be able to read and explain the elements within a poem using the TPCASTT method of operation for poetry analysis.

Before Reading

Before reading, it is a good idea to introduce students to the steps of TPCASTT, and to go over any terms that may be new to them.



Ask students to consider the title, and make a prediction about what the poem will be about. Make sure this is done prior to reading or giving background information on the poem.


After the title, students should paraphrase the poem. Students may translate the poem line by line into their own words, or summarize the work as a whole. At this point, tell them not to guess or infer what the author might be saying. Keep things concrete and literal.


Now, it is time for students to look deeper. Ask them to examine the poem for meaning beyond what is written in the text. Ask them to infer, guess, question, and think about the emotions and feelings the lines invoke. They should look for figurative language, imagery, and sound elements.


Ask to consider the tone of the speaker. Ask them to come up with some words to describe what that tone sounds like. Is it upset, mad, happy, melancholy? They can find direct quotes, or list words that all have the similar connotations.


Ask students to think about the speaker's attitude or tone, and to note any shifts or changes. They can specifically look for key words, time change, punctuation that is different than what preceded it.


Ask students to examine the title again. Now that they have uncovered much of the literal and interpretive meanings of the work, ask them what they think the title means. Were they correct with their first prediction? Were they wrong? Why?


Finally, have students put in their own words what the poem's subject is. What did they learn? What was the author, narrator, or speaker trying to tell the reader?

During Reading

It is crucial for students to focus on listening to the poem read out loud before getting into the TPCASTT. We recommend that students read it silently to themselves, then listen to it read aloud by the teacher or using multimedia. After students have read it twice, ask them what they caught or what changed the second time they heard/read it? Be careful not to get into a large class discussion, it might detract from the activity.

After Reading

If this is your first time doing TPCASTT with your classes, I suggest you allow for cooperative learning. Have students in pairs or groups complete the analysis together. If this is not their first-time, challenge them by asking that they do it individually; the teacher can always decide to do a "think, pair, share" after if necessary.

Once they have finished their worksheet, and it has been checked, students can begin to create their storyboard explaining what they came up with for ideas. Afterward you can have students present their storyboards and findings to the class! Just check out our article on how to present a storyboard!

If you do not have computer access, go right into sharing and class discussion.

TPCASTT Template Examples

Related Activities

Check out these TP-CASST activities from our guides on "The Raven", "Jabberwocky", and "On Being Brought from Africa to America".

Find more activities like this in our 6-12 ELA Category!
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