Lesson Plan

Freeing the Elwha (Calling the Salmon Back to the Elwha: Poems for the Adventurous Anadromous)

Salmon return upriver to spawn.
Photo courtesy of Debbie Preston


How can asking someone or something to respond to a request help to build understanding?


In this lesson students will write a "question and answer" poem that uses two voices, one to call the salmon back to the River and the other to respond to the caller. Students will perform their poems.


  • Computer/internet access
  • Pencil/paper
  • Question and Answer Poems
  • Student pages (printable handout)
  • Reflection Journal (printable handout)


Review the Essential Question, introduce the Guiding Question.

Have students take a few minutes to respond to the first Reflection Journal page then take a few minutes to talk about their responses.

Review the life cycle of salmon and the salmon associated with the Elwha River. Tell the students that once the dams have come down salmon are expected to return to the Elwha River. Tell them they will write a question and answer poem asking the salmon to come back to the River. Tell the students that question and answer poems don't have to rhyme, but they are structured in that there is a question then an answer. Have the students look at the poems provided. They range from the simple, to the silly, to the complex. Point out the question and answer structure of the poems.
Have the students use the chart on the Student page to brainstorm a list of questions and responses. The students will use their lists to organize their poems.
Give students class time to work on the poems. They may need to do some research on the Elwha and its salmon for ideas and facts.
When students have completed their poems, have them plan to read aloud either with one other student, or with several others in a chorale reading.
Share the poems with the National Park Service by emailing copies to dean_butterworth@nps.gov. Perhaps we'll publish them on our web site.


Reflection Journal pages (rubric included)
Question and Answer Poem (rubric included)
Student Page completion