Poem of the Month

Ocean Commotion

Did you know June is National Oceans Month? This poem is a great way to make content-area connections while building academic vocabulary and reading fluency. Poetry engages and energizes students, filling their minds with language in preparation for a successful literacy block. 

The poetry lessons in JillE Literacy are short, repeated shared reading experiences that boost essential literacy skills in small chunks of time. This makes them a perfect warm-up or transition activity that helps all students experience reading success and develop a positive learning mindset.

The built-in 5-day lesson plan on the back of every poster-size Poetry Card makes it easy to read and reread the poem over the course of a week, focusing on a different skill each day. All the planning is already done so teachers can spend less time planning and more time teaching.

Here are some sample questions and prompts from the 5-day lesson plan:


Support comprehension, oral language, and critical thinking by leading discussion about the title and illustration, reading the poem, and having students ask and answer questions.

  • Ask students: What clue do you get from the title and illustration about this poem? What could it be about?
  • Do you think creatures could ever be tossed from the deepest ocean? Why do you think that?
  • If you were a radio or television interviewer, what questions would you ask if this really did happen?

Build vocabulary by rereading the poem together, focusing on domain-specific and academic words, strong verbs, and alliteration.

  • After rereading the poem, focus on the words commotion, jolted, slumbering, mountainous, gargantuan. Establish what these means and discuss other words that could have been used.
  • Find words in the poem that are strong verbs.
  • Discuss the use of alliteration: slumbering sleep, darkest deep. Why do writers use alliteration?

Develop reading fluency by calling attention to punctuation and text features and rereading with expression.

  • Discuss the punctuation, bold font, and illustrative text in the poem and how these provide clues to how the poem should be read.
  • Read the poem out loud together, focusing on the text clues to read with pace and expression.

Reinforce, practice, and apply phonics and spelling skills by identifying sounds and spelling patterns in words.

  • Write the words slumbering, creatures, and swirling on the board.
  • Underline the /er/ sound in each word. Talk about the different spelling patterns (er, ir, ur).
  • Make a quick list of other words that have this same sound but a different spelling pattern (e.g. were, learn, word).

Tap into creativity and performance by providing opportunities for recitation, movement, music, illustration, and other forms of creative response.

  • Divide into groups: one group saying the poem, one group adding movement, and one adding sounds using body percussion, percussion instruments, or environmental materials.
  • Make a tune for the poem or say it as a rap.
  • Create a clapping and stamping pattern to match the rhythm of the poem.
  • Encourage students to illustrate the commotion in the ocean in their own way, inventing other things that could have happened when the whale slapped its tail. Have them add language in poetic form.

“Ocean Commotion” is part of the Grade 3 Whole-Class Resources kit but can be enjoyed by children and teachers of all ages.

Sign up or log in to read the poem and to download the 5-Day Lesson Plan and printable Blackline Master from the Related Resources section below.

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Check back next month for a brand-new JillE Literacy poem to share with your students!

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