Introduce the idea of a poet laureate, perhaps using or adapting the poet laureate quiz available on www.teachit.co.uk
. If part of the task of the modern poet laureate is to raise the public profile of poetry, how would students do it? Brainstorm ideas, encouraging creative exploration of public perceptions of poetry, and creative problem solving.
Then introduce Billy Collins, twice American poet laureate, and one of the ways in which he has reached a wider public audience - through YouTube. Play one or more of Billy Collins's animated poems from the site. Invite responses, to the idea and to the animation.
Next invite students to imagine they have been commissioned to produce similar videos for a selection of poems about childhood. Play the recordings of 'Donegal' and 'Playground', and also provide copies of the poem for reading and discussion. Set groups the task of making some initial notes on each poem, exploring speakers, situations, settings, themes, moods, styles - including key images - and structures.
In a mini-plenary, ask each group to select which one they think they could best work with to create an animated version, and why.
Next, let students loose in their groups on the animation task, choosing one poem to animate. It may be best to allocate specific roles, otherwise you can end up with each student producing one part of a whole that doesn't hang together. So, for example, you might have groups of four with a content director, a technical director, a project manager responsible for getting the job done in time, and a researcher responsible for finding images, music or whatever else they need. You might at this stage provide some specialist ICT input on how to produce the animations in different formats, depending on the ICT and media resources on your school, but this can also be done simply using powerpoint or an equivalent software application.
When the animations are finished, give students some time to prepare a formal presentation of their work to the class. This could include:
- the overall purpose and intended audience for the task
- an overview of their interpretation of the poem's meaning and impact
- the way they have attempted to use multimodal resources to show that interpretation
- what they think has worked well, and what limitations they encountered
- how well they have achieved their purpose (and how they know).
In a plenary context, each group formally presents its animation to the class, as above. If you are having a curriculum project day, you could enhance this with your panel of experts (English, ICT, and Art & Design, and also a yoof-audience-representative) each giving a response and/or marks out of 10.