More Than Rhyme: Poetry Fundamentals   Western Reserve Public Media
Why Teach Poetry? Resources Teacher Materials Watch Online Introduction to Poetry Tools Used in Poetry Applying the Tools
Tools Used in Poetry




Students will learn how repetition can either make something unending, stress it or set up a pattern and break it to draw attention.


Standards Addressed

Reading Standards for Literature 7-12

  • 7th/8th grade Craft and Structure, number 4

  • 7th/8th grade Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity, number 10

  • 9th/10th and 11th/12th grade Craft and Structure, number 4

  • 9th/10th and 11th/12th grade Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity, number 10





  1. Pass out note-taking materials.

  2. Review the lesson about sound by asking students to listen to Kathy Mattea singing “455 Rocket.” Discuss what Mattea does with her voice when she sings the words “455 rocket.” (She uses her voice to mimic an engine revving and going through its gears.) Review that the sound of the words can emphasize the meaning.

  3. Begin discussion of today’s device or tool: repetition. Explain that repetition means exactly what it sounds like — that something repeated can be emphasized or seemingly go on forever. But also explain that repetition can become a norm and breaking that norm draws attention. Use the example of a teacher talking nonstop and then being quiet suddenly. Everyone in class looks up to see who’s in trouble. Or explain that Japanese cultures once kept crickets as watchdogs. The chirping from the tiny cage on the hearth would become a constant and when it stopped, either someone was in your living room or your cricket died. Have students add the notes that repetitions can either make something unending, stress it or set up a pattern and break it, which would draw attention.

  4. Ask students if they remember the song that never ends. It was in “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along” where it was sung at the end of each show. It went:

    “This is the song that doesn’t end. Yes, it goes on and on, my friend. Some people started singing it not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because ...”

    Another similar song is “The Song That Gets on Everybody’s Nerves.” It is sung to the tune of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”:

    “I know a song that gets on everybody’s nerves, everybody’s nerves, everybody’s nerves. I know a song that gets on everybody’s nerves, and this is how it goes …”

    Explain that the repetition in these songs is maddening but also reinforcing. It makes it seem as if they’ll truly never end. If you were to stop singing mid-lyric, it would draw attention merely by breaking the pattern.

  5. Read “Strong Iron Hands” to the class. Discuss the only line without the words strong iron. Is that the line that should be emphasized?

  6. Next explain a bit about the Crimean War in the 1800s and tell what a light brigade is. Then read “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” Have students discuss the reasons for repetition here. (Stressing a point or perhaps making many attempts and battering at an enemy as they did.)


Formative Evaluation

As an exit activity, ask student why commercials put in a repeating “call-back” phrase such as the following:

“Red Robin — Yum!” or “You say Hillshire; I say Farms, go meat!”

We can hope they mention that the repetition is powerful because it stresses a point. Copyright© Northeastern Educational Television of Ohio, Inc. All rights reserved.
Imagery Enjambed Lines and Word Placement Personification Hyperbole and Understatement Comparisons “Strong Iron Hands” “Charge of the Light Brigade”