Lorna Loy, Brenda Beyal
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary
  • Lesson Plan
  • Native American Story
  • Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation
  • Poetry
  • april23
  • april24
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    Education Standards

    Creating Poetry Using a Traditional Shoshone Tale

    Creating Poetry Using a Traditional Shoshone Tale


    "How Wood Tick Became Flat" is a tale from the Northwestern Band of Shoshone Nation. This tale helps students become familiar with cultural storytelling and its importance in Native cultures. Students will have a brief introduction to the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation and thier location in Utah. This lesson include an experience eliciting discussion and literacy activities. Students will create a diamante poem using a Native American tale. 


    Time Frame: Five 45 minute sessions.

    Format: Whole group, small group, individual.

    Authors: Original lesson by LeeAnn Parker, adapted from Read, Write, Think: Dynamite Diamante Poetry

    Modified by Lorna Loy and Brenda Beyal 


    Goals and Outcomes

    As a result of this lesson, students will accomplish the following; 

    • Improve reading comprehension reading the tale, "How the Wood Tick Became Flat" from the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation of Utah.

    • Develop an appreciation for diamante poetry. This lesson will enable them to understand the thought and imagination contained in a diamante poem.

    • Construct a dimante poem, a synonym diamante poem or antonym diamante poem using words from the story and words that describe the action or characters from the tale. 

    • Publish thier poem as an author. 

    • Share poems by having students recite, perform, present or dramatize thier poem readings to an audience. Student will share thier poems by reciting, performing, presenting, dramatizing and/or publishing the poem in class - to an audience or in a class book.

    Background Knowledge

    Teacher Background Knowledge

    Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation

    The Shoshone, Paiute, Bannock and Ute people are related, and call themselves Newe or Neme (the People). Prior to contact with Europeans, the Newe groups formed small extended-family groupings that traveled extensively as semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers to survive in the harsh environment of the Great Basin desert. The Northwestern Shoshone traveled with the changing season. In the early autumn, the Northwestern Shoshone moved into the region near what is now Salmon, Idaho to fish. In the spring and summer, the Northwestern band traveled around southern Idaho and throughout Utah. During these months, they spent their time gathering seeds, roots, and berries and socializing with each other. Late summer was root digging time and smaller-game hunting time. Around late October, the band moved into western Utah and parts of Nevada for the annual gathering of pine nuts. The nutrient-rich nuts were an important part of the Shoshone diet. The area around what is now called Franklin and Preston, Idaho, was a permanent wintering home of the Northwestern Shoshone. It was known as Moson Kahni, which means Home of the Lungs. The rocks in the area looked sponge-like and made the Shoshone think of lungs. In this area and the rest of Cache Valley were natural places for the shoshone make their homes. More information about the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation can be accessed in the resources below. 

    The teacher need to be familiar with the Shoshone tale, "How the Wood Tick Became Flat," an adaptation of a traditional Shoshone tale. Teachers need to be familiar with the theme of the story and the purpose of traditional Native American tales and be able to explain to students that Native American traditional storytellers used legends, folktales and fables for many reasons. These stories recount the history of the people, they are used to entertain children, to educate children about morals and values, to teach life lessons through the characters and the consequences of thier choices. The resource, "Native American Storytelling" gives a summary of storytelling for teachers to use in picking main points that they feel are important to teach to thier students. 

    Teachers should become familiar with the diamante poem format; be prepared to explicitly teach the forms of nouns, verbs, and gerunds (words with the -ing ending, aka as participles). Familiarize yourself with the website so the students will be able to navigate efficiently. 

    Related Resources: 

    Student Background Knowledge:

    Students should have a clear understanding of VERBS, NOUNS, AND GERUNDS and be able to pick examples from text. Students should be familiar with the traditional tales through book center, library time and read alouds.

    Lesson Preparation

    Initial Preparation:

    1. Schedule two sessions in your school's computer lab. These do not need to be on consecutive days. If pneeded, bookmark the "Diamante Poems" interactive writing tool on the computers students will be using. These comuters should be connected to a printer so that students can print off their poems.

    2. Review the Diamante Poems interactive writing tool to familiarize yourself with it.

    3. Obtain copies of A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What Is a Noun?To Root, To Toot, To Parachute: What Is A Verb?, and Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is An Adjective? by Brian Cleary and Kites Sail High: A Book About VerbsMany Luscious Lollipops: A Book About Adjectives, and Merry-Go-Round: A Book About Nouns by Ruth Heller. Review each of them and find examples of nouns, adjectives, verbs, and gerunds to share with students during Session 1. Then go on to share this next section, which introduces gerunds:

      • Verbs tell of ships cruising, dogs snoozing, slime oozing,
        They tell of spies spying, guys trying and losing,
        Of leaves when they're falling, and wind when it's blowing,
        The rain when it's raining, the snow when it's snowing.

      • Claudia Moberly: Dynamite Diamante Poetry Lesson

    4. Copy the Word Sort Chart onto chart paper or a board in you classroom. Make a copy for collaborative groups. 

    5.  Make a chart or prepare to use Diamante Brainstorm for the projector or interactive white board. Also, make copies of this handout for each student in the class

    6. Hand out one copy of the Sample Diamante Poems handout to each student in the class. This handout includes three examples (You may want to copy one or two of these poems onto chart paper to use with the class as well). 

    7. Make one copy of the Diamante Poem Format handout for each student in the class.

    Other Material Needed:

    • Copies of "How The Wood Tick Became Flat - Print Version," an adaptation of a traditional Shoshone tale.

    • Access to computers for the interactive diamante poetry writing activity, found at:

    • Chart Paper for group diamante; Individual sheets for brainstorming.

    • Copies of diagrams, formats, and other resources listed in previous section, "Initial Preparation."

    • Books for grammar review (suggested): 

      • Kites Sail High: A Book About Verbs by Ruth Heller (Putnam Juvenile, 1998)

      • Many Luscious Lollipops: A Book About Adjectives by Ruth Heller (Putnam Juvenile, 1998)

      • Merry-Go-Round: A Book About Nouns by Ruth Heller (Putnam Juvenile, 1998)

      • A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What Is a Noun? by Brian Cleary (Carolrhoda Books, 1999)

      • Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective? by Brian Cleary (Carolrhoda Books, 2001)

      • To Root, To Toot, To Parachute: What Is a Verb? by Brian Cleary (Carolrhoda Books, 2001

    • As an independent writing activity, you may use other Native American traditional tales, stories or legends. See the  "Additional Resource" section for links to other resources. 

    Strategies for Diverse Learners

    Students who struggle with wrting try these scaffolding tips: 

    1. Share ideas before writing with a peer, as a whole group, or even using a technolog device. 

    2. Collaboratively write - instead of having students write on ther own, write collaboratively first. 

    3. Use sentence starters, word starters - this can help them guide them in writing. 

    4. Pre-Wrting. This is a critical step for helping struggling writers construct ideas. Using tools like brainstorms or Focus Storms, help students quickly get as many ideas as possible. The blank page can be daunting to a young writer who struggles with coming up with ideas. Brainstorming is a powerful tool to help writers flush out all the ideas and then a Focus Storm helps them to organize and fine-tune their ideas. This is also helpful because it is a visual for students to see that they have lots of ideas. If students ever get stuck for ideas, they can refer back to their brainstorm and focus storm.

    5. Allow students to illustrate thier finished writing piece with images or characters from the story. 

    Related Resources:

    Lesson Procedure


    1. Review the parts of speech noun and adjective, asking students for definitions and examples of both that you list on a piece of chart paper. Read students the noun and adjective examples you have selected from the Cleary and Heller books (list of book in lesson preparation section). Ask students to tell you words that were new to them or pages they particularly enjoyed hearing. Include the new words on the chart paper.

    2. Ask students to define the word verb and collect examples that you write on a new piece of chart paper. Introduce the term gerund. A gerund is a verb form ending in –ing that acts as a noun. Add the –ing ending to the verbs on the list that students generated (you might use a different color marker).

    3. Read students the verb and gerund examples you have selected from the Cleary and Heller books prior to the lesson and ask them to tell you words that were new to them or pages they particularly enjoyed hearing. Include the new words on the chart paper. Brainstorm other examples of verbs and gerunds with the students and record them on the chart paper. Point out the base words, which change their function when –ing is added. Ask students to use the gerunds in sentences that you then record on the chart paper.

    4. Show students Word Sort Chart you have created on the board or chart paper and review the different spelling patterns for each column (you may choose to provide one example for each).

    5. Have the students work in groups of 2-3 to do a word sort activity using this chart. Distribute six or seven index cards to each group. Student should record a verb and its gerund form on each card. They may use the examples you have discussed in class or come up with thier own. Have each group of students write at least six examples (two from each spelling pattern), on index cards. They may use dictionaries, glossaries, or you classroom word wall. 

    6. When each group of students has at least six examples (two from each spelling pattern), ask them to post thier cards in the correct column on the Word Sort Chart. 

    7. As a class, decide if there are any words that should be moved into a different column, then discuss the reasons for the move. Note: You should make the books you used in this session available for students to read during independent reading time and when they are writing their poems in Session 3. Gather a collection of Native American traditional tales/trade books for a book center as well.

    SESSION 2 - Diamante Poems Direct Teaching

    1. Distribute the Sample Diamante Poems handout and any additional samples you have chosen to use. Ask students to discover the pattern of these poems using the following questions:

      • What do you notice about the shape of the poems? What are these poems about? How do they start? How do they end? What do you notice about the number of words in each line? Do the poems use nouns? Adjectives? Verbs? Gerunds?

    2. Among the things you want to discuss are the following:

      • The poem is shaped like a diamond, giving it the name diamante poetry. Diamante poems can be about one thing or they can compare and contrast two opposite things. The number of words varies by line. Different parts of speech make up the different lines. Lines 1 and 7 are nouns. Lines 2 and 6 are adjectives. Lines 3 and 5 are gerunds. Line 4 is a transitional line that moves from the first part of the poem to the second. It can either be four nouns or a thought that has at least five words. The words in the poem all relate to the first and last lines of the poem, which serve as a title and conclusion. Sometimes the same word is used, sometimes two words that are synonyms, and sometimes two words that are antonyms. 

    3. Ask students what they notice about the words used in the diamante poems you have chosen. Questions for discussion include:

      • How do they think that the writers came up with these words? If they were writing a poem, where could they look to find words that relate to their topic?

    4. Tell the class you will now compose a diamante together. Ask the students to think about the characters in "How the Wood Tick Became Flat," the traditional tale from the Utah Northwestern Band Shoshone tribe. Re-read the story, if need be.

    5. Working as a class, use the Diamante Brainstorm chart you have created or project the handout on the interactive whiteboard. Ask students to create a word list for thier poem. Remind them of the process you used during "Session 2" to search for words for the class diamante poem. Tell them having more words than they need forthier final poem will allow them to choose the words that will best describe their topic for thier poem. List more words than the poem will require.

    6.  Model the choice of the most descriptive and appropriate words from the list by encouraging a class discussion about which words should be used and why. Discuss the order in which they should be placed to create a class diamante poem. Ask students what they think the transition should be from the beginning of the poem to the conclusion. Encourage students to experiment with different word choice and order - and make not of the change in mood, tempo, and rhythm. 

    7. Review spelling patterns necessary for correct spelling of gerunds.

    SESSIONS 3 and 4: Diamante Poems - "You Do"

    1. Students will compose their own diamante poems using another traditional tale. Have them think about some of the other traditional tales they've read in class, or other Native traditional tales from the series, whether it be from the Navajo, Ute, Shoshone, Paiute, or Goshute sets. There are several very good trade books to choose from also. The children and tribal leaders from the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone tribe recently illustrated and published an adaptation of a traditional Shoshone tale, Coyote Steals Fire. Coyote Steals Fire: USU Press or a digital copy here: DigitialCommons@USU: Coyote Steals Fire

    2. First, have students select topics. Tell them that getting started is always they hardest part.

    3. Discuss potential sources for interesting words. Possibilities include the books you shared and the charts you created during Session 1, reference books in your classroom, and vocabulary lists.

    4. Pass out the Diamante Brainstorm handout and ask students to create word lists for their poem. Remind them of the process you used during Session 2 to search for words for the class diamante poem. Tell them that having more words than they need for their final poem will allow them to choose the words that will best describe thier topic.

    5. Have students use their word list and the "Diamante Poems Interactive Writing Tool" to write a diamante poem. Students should print their poems when they are complete. If your students' skills vary widely, have them work in pairs to insure success.

    6. Remind students of the three possible spelling patterns used in correctly spelled gerunds. Ask them to check the gerunds they used in their poems to make sure they are spelled correctly. Print final draft of their poems.

    SESSION 5: Presentation of Poem

    1. Ask student volunteers to share their poems with the class. If they are comfortable asking for comments, allow time for class responses.

    2. Collect student poems and hang them up in the classroom. Students may wish to illustrate their poems.



    • During class discussions (especially the creation of the class poem), anecdotal notes and observation can be used to monitor understanding of spelling patterns, parts of speech, and vocabulary.

    • Use the word-sort activity to assess student comprehension of gerunds.

    • Check final versions of the students' poems for application of new learning of parts of speech, diamante structure, and spelling patterns.

    • Read, Write, Think: Diamante Rubric
    • Read, Write, Think: Poetry Speaking and Perfomance Rubric

    Additional Resources

    Additional Resources for Poems:

    Addtional Resources for Native American Topics

    • San Juan School District: Heritage Language Resource Center - The Heritage Language Resource Center (formerly Curriculum/Media Center) began over 40 years ago, specifically to create Dine Language materials for the students of San Juan County, Utah. Over these 40 years, we have provided a print and media-rich Navajo language environment for students and families. The number of schools and students, as well as the quality and quantity of the language materials has increased over the years. Today, we offer not only reading materials, but also flashcards, posters, vocabulary games, beginning readers, traditional stories in Navajo and English, audio CDs of traditional songs and stories, and DVDs starring the one and only Coyote!  We offer Navajo Language materials for the students, educators, health care facilities, and families of San Juan County and across the Four Corners region. We also make a selection of materials for Uinta-Ouray and Ute Mountain Ute educators.
    • BYU ARTS Partnership Lesson Plans - Founded as an initiative in the BYU-Public School Partnership, the BYU ARTS Partnership works to increase the quality and quantity of arts education in Utah elementary schools. The initiative is housed in the Center for Improvement of Teacher Education and Schooling (CITES) in the McKay School of Education. BYU faculty, district administrators, and teachers collaborate to provide professional development programs and create materials and resources for teachers.

    • Circle of Stories - Circle of Stories uses documentary film, photography, artwork and music to honor and explore Native American storytelling.

    • History To Go: Shoshone of Northern Utah - Utah Division of State History id an online course for Utah history. Divided into facts, people, places and bibliography of some of the best historical information for Utah state (Utah History To Go

    • UEN American Indian Resources - Find current, culturally appropriate resources for teaching and learning about Utah’s indigenous communities, heroes and events, present and past. Check back regularly for updates and submit comments and suggestions here.

    • Utah American Indian Digital Archive - (UAIDA) is a gateway to the best resources regarding Utah’s Indian tribes. With articles, books, government documents, tribal documents, oral histories, photographs, and maps pertaining to the Northwestern Shoshone, Goshute, Paiute, Utah Navajo, White Mesa, and Ute Indians, this unique archive captures the complicated history of Utah’s tribes from multiple perspectives. The project, which stems from forty years of research conducted by the University of Utah’s American West Center on behalf of Utah’s Indians, offers tribal members, students, and researchers unprecedented access to information about the rich history and culture of Utah’s native peoples.