Dive Deep

poem by Christabel Seneque , illustrated by Rosemary Fung

Learning Intention:


I am learning to use syllable patterns to understand the rhythm in poetry so that I can focus on fluency when reading aloud.


Success Criteria:


  • I can identify syllable patterns.
  • I can compose a poem that follows a syllable pattern.
  • I can read my poem aloud following the syllable pattern to create rhythm.


Essential knowledge:


Display the following list of words:

  • Concoction
  • Disaster
  • Australia
  • Athletic
  • Disinfectant
  • Hesitant
  • Enchanted
  • Classical

Collaboratively clap the syllables for the first word, concoction, ensuring students correctly identify that it contains three syllables. Repeat this process with the second word, disaster, and ensure students identify that it also contains three syllables. Emphasise that each syllable relates to one vowel sound. Place students in small groups and instruct them to identify the syllables in each of the remaining words on the list, clapping them first if they wish. Discuss responses, ensuring students note that the words contain the following number of syllables:

  • Australia (4)
  • Athletic (3)
  • Disinfectant (4)
  • Hesitant (3)
  • Enchanted (3)
  • Classical (3)

Invite students to share further examples of four syllable words that they are familiar with.


Oral language and communication:


Read the poem What Noses Know (page 12) from this issue of Countdown aloud to students. As you read, ignore rhythm and line breaks, instead merging the lines together so that both the rhythm and the rhyming sequence are unclear.

For example, read the first two lines in a continuous stream, pausing mid-way through the third line rather than at the end of the line where the pause should be, for example:

I don’t know, What noses know, For I am not…

Continue reading in this manner so that the rhythm and rhyming pattern are unclear.

Reread the poem, this time pausing at the end of each line, so the rhythm and the rhyming pattern are clearer, or listen to the audio file if you have a digital subscription. Discuss the differences between each of the readings. Ensure students identify that pausing at the appropriate times allows the rhythm and the rhyming sequence to be clear to the listener.

Inform students that patterns of syllables help to create rhythm. Discuss the syllable pattern in What Noses Know, ensuring students identify that the pattern alternates between fewer and more numbers of syllables, with two lines with less syllables, followed by one line with more.  For example:

I don’t know (3 syllables)
What noses know, (4 syllables)
For I am not a nose. (6 syllables)
But I can tell (4 syllables)
That noses smell, (4 syllables)
At least I would suppose. (6 syllables)


Understanding text:


Read the first stanza of Dive Deep aloud, using accurate fluency by pausing in the appropriate places. Discuss the syllable pattern, ensuring students note the following:

A vessel drops beneath the waves, (8 syllables)

its path is very steep. (6 syllables)
It’s looking for whatever lies (8 syllables)
in waters cold and deep (6 syllables)


Instruct students to work with the same partners as previously to identify the syllable pattern in the remaining stanzas. Ensure students identify that the remainder of the poem follows the same syllable pattern, alternating between 8 and 6 syllables with every pair of lines.


Creating text:


Inform students that they will be composing their poems that use a syllable pattern to create rhythm. Tell students that when poets compose poems, they will go through a number of drafts. Inform them that often poets will first focus on getting their ideas on the page before editing their poems to ensure they conform to patterns of rhyme and the number of syllables. Tell students that they will be experimenting with this process. Inform students that first you will be composing an example collaboratively.

Discuss locations that are important to students, for example, the night sky, the beach, the forest, school, or a park. Select one of these locations to compose a collaborative poem, for example, the night sky. Begin by listing vocabulary on the board to describe the chosen location, for example:

  • Twinkling stars
  • Far away lights
  • Glowing moon
  • Deep black sky
  • Sky like a ribbon
  • Stars like lights


Compose a brief poem with the students that includes these descriptions. For now, don’t worry about rhyme or syllables, for example:

High above, the lights twinkle,

Like blinking lights in the sky,

The moon glows bright,

A shining orb in the deep black sky.

Discuss how you might edit the lines to create a syllable pattern similar to that in Deep Dive, where the number of syllables alternates between 6 and 8. For now, ignore the rhyming scheme. Edit the lines collaboratively, for example:


High above, the lights glow,

Like blinking lights in the night,

The orb of the moon glows,

A shining ball in the black sky.


If students wish to make the poem rhyme, they may use a rhyming dictionary. If choosing to follow a rhyme scheme, edit the poem further, for example:


High above, the lights shine,

Like blinking lights in the dark night,

The orb of the moon glows,

In the black sky a special sight.


Read the poem aloud, listening to the rhythm created by the syllable pattern. Instruct students to compose their own poems with their partner, by completing the following:

  • Identify a location that is special to you
  • Note down vocabulary to describe the location
  • Compose a poem that features the vocabulary
  • Edit the poem for a syllable pattern that alternates between 6 and 8 syllables every second line
  • Edit your poem for rhyme if you wish


Allow time for students to practice reading their poems using accurate fluency.


Assessment for/as learning:


Inform students that they will be reading their poems aloud to another pair of students. Allow time for students to perform their poems and encourage students to provide oral feedback on the syllable pattern in each of the poems.

Instruct students to respond to the following exit ticket question in their workbooks:

  • Syllables support rhythm when reading aloud poems because…