Teach Poetry

Celebrate National Poetry Day with the Poetry Archive

Here at the Poetry Archive we believe that poetry should be celebrated every day.  We recommend a daily diet of poetry for the heart and soul and hope that our visitors will make regular use of our vast archive of poets reading their own work.

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Poetry by Heart competition

Poetry By Heart is a pioneering national competition designed to encourage young people aged 14-18 at school and college in England to learn and to recite poems by heart.

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Listening to poetry

Poetry was an oral art form before it became textual. Homer's work lived through the spoken word long before any markings were made on a page. Hearing a poet reading his or her work remains uniquely illuminating. It helps us to understand the work as well as helping us to enjoy it.

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A guide to the language of Caribbean poetry

Click here to download a pdf version of this article.

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A multimodal exploration of Tennyson's 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'

For students to explore through images a key Victorian idea about war (dulce et decorum est pro patria mori); to develop an awareness of historical context by reading a Crimean War ballad and a first hand news report; to read Tennyson's poem and compare it with images and texts encountered; and to explore the legacy of Tennyson’s poem and the validity of its enduring appeal.

 

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Different writers, different times

For students to: imaginatively explore their own special places and those of two poets from different times and places: W.B. Yeats (Ireland) and James Berry (Jamaica); to experience creative reading and creative writing; to develop a comparative analysis of the two poems. 

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Create a Guided Tour

To read a range of poems and select six to prepare brief introductions to; to write a well structured Guided Tour of the Poetry Archive; to use talk to develop drafting processes; to share their enjoyment of particular poems with a real audience.

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Welcome!

Hello and welcome to the Poetry Archive. And, to our old friends, a very warm welcome back. What you’re looking at now is a revamped version of the site, and I want to introduce it to you by saying I hope you enjoy what you see and hear as much as we’ve enjoyed providing it.

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Poetry, Creativity, Multimodality

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Links to poetry resources for teaching and learning

Academy of American Poets
The Academy of American Poets website contains essays, interviews, biographies, poems and many other resources.

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How to get the best out of the Poetry Archive

Tip 1

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Poetry moments

The Poetry Archive is primarily about listening, and classroom activities around poetry need not always involve students doing their own writing - there are plenty of other ways of responding to a poem.

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Invite a poet

Finding a poet

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Create a listening atmosphere

What about visuals?

When concentration levels are low and your class is restless, something visual - whether it's a photograph, a sketch, a diagram on the whiteboard - can help support learning.

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Lesson on 'Considering the snail' by Thom Gunn

To consider the definition of poetry and the nature of poetic language To consider the nature, purposes and effects of poetic form in modernist poetry To develop understanding of half rhyme, syllabic metre and enjambement

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Lesson on 'A subaltern's love song' by John Betjeman

To explore how a poet uses language to evoke a specific cultural, social and historical milieu To compare and contrast a poem with popular songs of the same era To explore the implications of writing poems inspired by real people

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Lesson on 'A refusal to mourn the death, by fire, of a child in London' by Dylan Thomas

To explore how a poet tackles the profound subject of death To explore poetic diction and make predictions about texts To compare and contrast two poems on a similar theme written several centuries apart To evaluate a critical response to a poem and the ways in which this may affect their own views

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Lesson on 'Mr Bleaney' by Philip Larkin

To explore how a poet builds a sense of place and uses this to give us clues about character To develop skills of close reading

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Lesson on 'Next to of course god America' by e e cummings

To focus on the use of allusion, by looking at a specific satirical mode of allusion To understand some of the features of modernism To understand aspects of the relationship between modernist art and poetry

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Lesson on 'The hill fort (Y Gaer)' by Owen Sheers

To explore how a poet uses language to evoke the themes of landscape, identity and memory To compare and contrast a pair of poems designed as companion pieces To evaluate a critical response to two poems

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Lesson on 'Sonnet' by Billy Collins

To explore how a range of poets use the sonnet form To develop skills of close reading, including the analysis of poetic form and structure To develop skills of collaborative work

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Natural world: 'Green Lane' by Stephanie Norgate and 'Flies and Nettles' by Fergus Allen

To explore how poets envisage the relationship between humans and the natural world. To create visualisations of the poems (through PowerPoint, collage or other artwork) as a way of expressing these relationships. To encourage group work. To understand some aspects of the radical pastoral.

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Lesson on 'Ceasefire' by Michael Longley

To attend to the language of the poem through active listening to aural readings of 'Ceasefire' by the poet, individuals and by peers By drawing attention to literary historical contexts of poetry to foster among students an awareness of how contemporary writers draw on the work of earlier poets as part of a 'living tradition' To engage with some key concepts about poetry including context, genre, narrative and lyric form

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Lesson on 'The Whitsun weddings' by Philip Larkin

To explore how a poet uses language to observe and comments on ordinary lives. To understand the cultural and historical contexts in which the poem was written.

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Lesson on 'The applicant' by Sylvia Plath

For students to: explore the poem through their own creative writing experience poetry aurally in the high-octane form of Plath's original recording and student performance of their own Plath-ish poems understand how words and images work in patterns to create mood.

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Lesson on 'Everyone sang' by Siegfried Sassoon

To explore the way in which poetry can capture the mood of a moment in time. To develop an understanding of historical context in literary study.

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Inclusion: 'Childhood tracks' by James Berry

All pupils will... attend to parts of the poem and be encouraged to make a visual response. Some pupils will... recognise key ideas in the text. A few pupils will... relate the key ideas in the text to similar experiences of their own.

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Lesson on 'The tin wash dish' by Les Murray

By the end of the lesson pupils will have: considered the way the ways in which abstract ideas can be realised through poetry responded to the poem in a visual form

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Lesson on 'Belfast confetti' by Ciaran Carson

To attend to the language of the poem through active listening to aural readings of 'Belfast Confetti' by the poet, individuals and by peers To consider some key concepts relevant to reading the poem including form, narrator, lyric, anti-lyric, image and symbol To examine the importance of the techniques of naming and punctuation to the meanings contained within the poem

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Lesson on 'Journey of the Magi' by T S Eliot

For students to: develop an understanding of some key concepts about poetry, specifically the persona and narrative poetry; experience poetry aurally in the high-octane form of Eliot's original recording; explore many interpretations of the poem's meaning and form through playful, creative and collaborative activity with others.

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Lesson on 'One evening' by W.H. Auden

For students to: explore the spoken dimension of poetry: specifically the multiple voices of this poem and how they might be conveyed in recital or reading experience poetry aurally in the high-octane form of Auden's original recording, and by listening to alternative readings by other people develop an understanding of the purpose of deploying competing voices in a poem.

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Inclusion: 'Legend' by Gillian Clarke

All pupils will show an awareness of different uses and meanings of words.

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Lesson on 'In-a Brixtan markit' by James Berry

To encourage the pleasure of reading and listening to poetry To further pupils' understanding of dialect and the specificity of language poets use to shape meanings To encourage pupils to explore how emotional responses may be expressed in a poem To develop pupils' abilities to use technical language in their discussion of poetry

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Lesson on 'Mr and Mrs Scotland are dead' by Kathleen Jamie

EN2 1a: to extract meaning beyond the literal, explaining how the choice of language and style affects implied and explicit meanings EN2 1c: how ideas, values and emotions are explored and portrayed EN2 1d: to identify the perspectives offered on individuals, community and society

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Mothers - 'Mossbawn Sunlight' by Seamus Heaney and 'Not yet my mother' by Owen Sheers

To develop and adapt speaking skills and strategies in formal and informal contexts To analyse how writers' use of linguistic and literary features shapes and influences meaning To generate poems, through planning, drafting, and rewriting

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Parents - 'Eden Rock' by Charles Causley and 'Timer' by Tony Harrison

To analyse and explore two poems that recall memories of the poets' parents To understand the ways poets use language to create meanings beyond the correlation between word and object To develop greater emotional awareness through scrutiny of these two poems

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Place - 'In my country' by Jackie Kay and 'Geography lesson' by Brian Patten

For students to: Understand and respond to the ideas, themes and issues in poems Appreciate the linguistic choices made by poets, and their effects

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Lesson on 'I, Too' by Langston Hughes

For students to: investigate the power of the title using corpus tools experience poetry aurally in the high-octane form of Hughes's original recording explore how the strength and power of the poem’s voice are constructed compare this with other texts.

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Lesson on 'Prayer before birth' by Louis MacNeice

To encourage students' enjoyment of listening to poetry. To encourage students' pleasure in writing poetry. To extend and develop students' appreciation of poetry. To develop students' abilities to understand a poetic response to the world they inhabit, both from the point of view of a poet and from their own experience.

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Inclusion: 'I see you dancing, father' by Brendan Kennelly

All pupils will attend and respond to the sound, rhythm and mood of the text.

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Inclusion: 'The river' by Valerie Bloom

All pupils will... have listened to and made a response to part of the poem. Some pupils will... use vocal intonation to enhance meaning. A few pupils will... recognise some of the rhyming words and find some new rhyming words.

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Lesson on 'Timothy Winters' by Charles Causley

Year 7 Key Stage Three English Framework R3: compare and contrast the ways information is presented in different forms R19: explore how form contributes to meaning in poems from different times and cultures eg storytelling in ballads S10: identify and report the main points emerging from discussion S13: work together logically and methodically to solve problems, make deductions, share, test and evaluate ideas.

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Lesson on 'Red Boots On' by Kit Wright

To encourage the pleasure of reading poetry To encourage the pleasure of listening to poetry To encourage pupils' understanding of rhythm, rhyme and symbolism To develop pupils' ability to write their own poetry To extend pupils' understanding of the drafting and re-drafting process To encourage specificity in the writing of pupils' own poetry To encourage pupils to use technical language to articulate the power of poetry.

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Work - 'The innocence of radium' by Lavinia Greenlaw and 'Nine to five' by Roger McGough

For students to: Encounter different experiences and attitudes towards the world of work as expressed in some contemporary poems Experience poetry aurally in the high-octane form of the two poets’ recordings Explore interpretations of the poems’ meaning and form through critical, creative and collaborative activity with others

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Babies - 'Prayer before birth' by Louis MacNeice and 'The Tay Moses' by Kathleen Jamie

To explore the ways poets write about infants To encourage students to write their own poems on the theme of infancy

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Violence - 'The shout' by Simon Armitage and 'Blues' by Derek Walcott

For students to: Understand and respond to ideas, viewpoints, themes and purposes in texts Use different dramatic approaches to explore ideas, texts and issues Experience poetry aurally in the high-octane form of the two poets' recordings

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Identity - 'In my country' by Jackie Kay and 'Timer' by Tony Harrison

For students to: Develop and adapt active reading skills and strategies Understand and respond to ideas, viewpoints, themes and purposes in texts Experience poetry aurally in the high-octane form of the two poets' recordings

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Lesson on 'Not waving but drowning' by Stevie Smith

To encourage the pleasure of reading poetry. To encourage the pleasure of listening to poetry. To explore ways of interpreting poetry through different readings. To develop pupils’ ability to work in groups. To explore ways in which poetry may lead to other kinds of writing.

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Lesson on 'Pike' by Ted Hughes

To develop an understanding of how a poet uses language to capture creatures on the page. To use this understanding to draft a poem on a 'sinister' animal.

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Lesson on 'A refusal to mourn the death, by fire, of a child in London' by Dylan Thomas

To encourage the pleasure of reading poetry. To encourage the pleasure of listening to poetry. To explore ways of interpreting poetry through different readings. To develop pupils’ ability to work in groups.

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Gifted & talented: 'Cook ting' by R.F. Langley

The pupils will: explore the relationship between words and objects; words and place explore different ways of performing poetry

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Lesson on 'Immigrant' by Fleur Adcock

To encourage the pleasure of reading poetry; to encourage the pleasure of listening to poetry; to enable pupils to understand how emotional responses may be poetically expressed; to develop pupils' ability to use technical language in their discussion of poetry.

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Lesson on 'Seven types of shadow' by U A Fanthorpe

By the end of the lesson the pupils will have: explored the conventions of the ghostly stereotype as portrayed in written and visual forms; listened closely to the opening of the poem and developed an understanding of the situation U.A. Fanthorpe has created; collaborated with other members of their small group to discuss their interpretations and ideas; organised and presented their proposal to the rest of the class both in writing and orally.

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Lesson on 'Hyena' by Edwin Morgan

By the end of the lesson pupils will have explored the ways in which Edwin Morgan creates the viewpoint of the hyena through his use of language and structure; identified the underlying themes through listening and discussion; drawn on their developing understanding of Morgan's poetic techniques to inform their own drafting.

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Lesson on 'Walking with my iguana' by Brian Moses

By the end of the lesson the pupils will have: discussed the structure of the poem, specifically the effect of the use of rhyme read the poem inferentially to discuss assumptions about the speaker of the poem, and about the role the speaker adopts considered the overall impact of the poem upon the listener as a piece for performance

View page

Lesson on 'The news' by Michael Rosen

By the end of the lesson the pupils will have: discussed the nature of nonsense poetry and how it turns what we think of as everyday life and language upside down to create new and strange meanings; written a simple nonsense poem through the technique of repetition and juxtaposition of unlikely phrases.

View page

Lesson on 'Considering the Snail' by Thom Gunn

  • To consider the definition of poetry and the nature of poetic language
  • To consider the nature, purposes and effects of poetic form in modernist poetry
  • To develop understanding of half rhyme, syllabic metre and enjambement

View page

Lesson on 'Next to of course god America' by e e cummings

  • To focus on the use of allusion, by looking at a specific satirical mode of allusion
  • To understand some of the features of modernism
  • To understand aspects of the relationship between modernist art and poetry

View page

Lesson on 'A Subaltern's Love Song' by John Betjeman

  • To explore how a poet uses language to evoke a specific cultural, social and historical milieu
  • To compare and contrast a poem with popular songs of the same era
  • To explore the implications of writing poems inspired by real people

View page

Lesson on 'The Hill Fort (Y Gaer)' by Owen Sheers

  • To explore how a poet uses language to evoke the themes of landscape, identity and memory
  • To compare and contrast a pair of poems designed as companion pieces
  • To evaluate a critical response to two poems

View page

Lesson on 'A Refusal to Mourn the Death, By Fire, of a Child in London' by Dylan Thomas

  • To explore how a poet tackles the profound subject of death
  • To explore poetic diction and make predictions about texts
  • To compare and contrast two poems on a similar theme written several centuries apart
  • To evaluate a critical response to a poem and the ways in which this may affect their own views
  • View page

Lesson on 'Sonnet' by Billy Collins

  • To explore how a range of poets use the sonnet form
  • To develop skills of close reading, including the analysis of poetic form and structure
  • To develop skills of collaborative work
  • View page

Lesson on 'Mr Bleaney' by Philip Larkin

  • To explore how a poet builds a sense of place and uses this to give us clues about character
  • To develop skills of close reading
  • View page

Lesson on 'Ceasefire' by Michael Longley

  • To attend to the language of the poem through active listening to aural readings of 'Ceasefire' by the poet, individuals and by peers
  • By drawing attention to literary historical contexts of poetry to foster among students an awareness of how contemporary writers draw on the work of earlier poets as part of a 'living tradition'
  • To engage with some key concepts about poetry including context, genre, narrative and lyric form
  • View page

Lesson on 'Belfast Confetti' by Ciaran Carson

  • To attend to the language of the poem through active listening to aural readings of 'Belfast Confetti' by the poet, individuals and by peers
  • To consider some key concepts relevant to reading the poem including form, narrator, lyric, anti-lyric, image and symbol
  • To examine the importance of the techniques of naming and punctuation to the meanings contained within the poem
  • View page

Lesson on 'Green Lane' by Stephanie Norgate and 'Flies and Nettles' by Fergus Allen

  • To explore how poets envisage the relationship between humans and the natural world.
  • To create visualisations of the poems (through PowerPoint, collage or other artwork) as a way of expressing these relationships.
  • To encourage group work.
  • To understand some aspects of the radical pastoral.

View page

Lesson on 'The Whitsun Weddings' by Philip Larkin

  • To explore how a poet uses language to observe and comments on ordinary lives.
  • To understand the cultural and historical contexts in which the poem was written.

View page

Lesson on 'Journey of the Magi' by T S Eliot

For students to:

  • develop an understanding of some key concepts about poetry, specifically the persona and narrative poetry;
  • experience poetry aurally in the high-octane form of Eliot's original recording;
  • explore many interpretations of the poem's meaning and form through playful, creative and collaborative activity with others.

View page

Lesson on 'The Applicant' by Sylvia Plath

For students to:

  • explore the poem through their own creative writing
  • experience poetry aurally in the high-octane form of Plath's original recording and student performance of their own Plath-ish poems
  • understand how words and images work in patterns to create mood.

View page

Lesson on 'Pike' by Ted Hughes

  • To develop an understanding of how a poet uses language to capture creatures on the page.
  • To use this understanding to draft a poem on a 'sinister' animal.

View page

Lesson on 'One Evening' by W.H. Auden

For students to:

  • explore the spoken dimension of poetry: specifically the multiple voices of this poem and how they might be conveyed in recital or reading
  • experience poetry aurally in the high-octane form of Auden's original recording, and by listening to alternative readings by other people
  • develop an understanding of the purpose of deploying competing voices in a poem.

View page

Lesson on 'I, Too' by Langston Hughes

For students to:

  • investigate the power of the title using corpus tools
  • experience poetry aurally in the high-octane form of Hughes's original recording
  • explore how the strength and power of the poem’s voice are constructed
  • compare this with other texts.

View page

Lesson on 'Everyone Sang' by Siegfried Sassoon

  • To explore the way in which poetry can capture the mood of a moment in time.
  • To develop an understanding of historical context in literary study.

View page

Lesson on 'Not Waving But Drowning' by Stevie Smith

  • To encourage the pleasure of reading poetry.
  • To encourage the pleasure of listening to poetry.
  • To explore ways of interpreting poetry through different readings.
  • To develop pupils’ ability to work in groups.
  • To explore ways in which poetry may lead to other kinds of writing.

View page

Lesson on 'Prayer before Birth' by Louis MacNeice

  • To encourage students' enjoyment of listening to poetry.
  • To encourage students' pleasure in writing poetry.
  • To extend and develop students' appreciation of poetry.
  • To develop students' abilities to understand a poetic response to the world they inhabit, both from the point of view of a poet and from their own experience.

View page

Lesson on 'A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London' by Dylan Thomas

  • To encourage the pleasure of reading poetry.
  • To encourage the pleasure of listening to poetry.
  • To explore ways of interpreting poetry through different readings.
  • To develop pupils’ ability to work in groups.

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Lesson on 'The Romans in Britain' by Judith Nicholls

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Lesson on 'The Chimney Boy's Story' by Wes Magee

The intention is that children studying this poem should match it against the historical evidence and comment on the effectiveness of the language and vocabulary used by the poet. As historians they should:

  • collect information from a range of sources and draw conclusions about the Victorian period;
  • understand that ways of life differed greatly across Victorian society
  • write or present a review using historical detail
  • understand that there are many representations of the Victorian period

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Lesson on 'In-a Brixtan Markit' by James Berry

  • To encourage the pleasure of reading and listening to poetry
  • To further pupils' understanding of dialect and the specificity of language poets use to shape meanings
  • To encourage pupils to explore how emotional responses may be expressed in a poem
  • To develop pupils' abilities to use technical language in their discussion of poetry

View page

Lesson on 'Immigrant' by Fleur Adcock

  • To encourage the pleasure of reading poetry;
  • to encourage the pleasure of listening to poetry;
  • to enable pupils to understand how emotional responses may be poetically expressed;
  • to develop pupils' ability to use technical language in their discussion of poetry.

View page

Lesson on 'The Tin Wash Dish' by Les Murray

By the end of the lesson pupils will have:

  • considered the way the ways in which abstract ideas can be realised through poetry
  • responded to the poem in a visual form

View page

Lesson on 'Mr and Mrs Scotland are Dead' by Kathleen Jamie

EN2 1a: to extract meaning beyond the literal, explaining how the choice of language and style affects implied and explicit meanings

EN2 1c: how ideas, values and emotions are explored and portrayed

EN2 1d: to identify the perspectives offered on individuals, community and society

View page

Lesson on 'Timothy Winters' by Charles Causley

Year 7 Key Stage Three English Framework

R3: compare and contrast the ways information is presented in different forms

R19: explore how form contributes to meaning in poems from different times and cultures eg storytelling in ballads

S10: identify and report the main points emerging from discussion

S13: work together logically and methodically to solve problems, make deductions, share, test and evaluate ideas.

View page

Lesson on 'Seven Types of Shadow' by U A Fanthorpe

By the end of the lesson the pupils will have:

  • explored the conventions of the ghostly stereotype as portrayed in written and visual forms;
  • listened closely to the opening of the poem and developed an understanding of the situation U.A. Fanthorpe has created;
  • collaborated with other members of their small group to discuss their interpretations and ideas;
  • organised and presented their proposal to the rest of the class both in writing and orally.

View page

Lesson on 'Red Boots On' by Kit Wright

  • To encourage the pleasure of reading poetry
  • To encourage the pleasure of listening to poetry
  • To encourage pupils' understanding of rhythm, rhyme and symbolism
  • To develop pupils' ability to write their own poetry
  • To extend pupils' understanding of the drafting and re-drafting process
  • To encourage specificity in the writing of pupils' own poetry
  • To encourage pupils to use technical language to articulate the power of poetry.

View page

Lesson on 'Hyena' by Edwin Morgan

By the end of the lesson pupils will have

  • explored the ways in which Edwin Morgan creates the viewpoint of the hyena through his use of language and structure;
  • identified the underlying themes through listening and discussion;
  • drawn on their developing understanding of Morgan's poetic techniques to inform their own drafting.

View page

Lesson on 'Walking with my Iguana' by Brian Moses

By the end of the lesson the pupils will have:

  • discussed the structure of the poem, specifically the effect of the use of rhyme
  • read the poem inferentially to discuss assumptions about the speaker of the poem, and about the role the speaker adopts
  • considered the overall impact of the poem upon the listener as a piece for performance

View page

Lesson on 'Please Mrs Butler' by Allan Ahlberg

By the end of the lesson the pupils will have:

  • discussed the structure of the poem, specifically the effect of the use of rhyme;
  • discussed the way the poet has organised the poem into sections which develop or move on the 'story' of the poem;
  • discussed the feelings of the characters in the poem, and how we infer from the poem the changes in their feelings.

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Lesson on 'Bluebottle' by Judith Nicholls

By the end of the lesson the pupils will have:

  • discussed and reflected on the use of verbs in the poem to create a strong sense of energy;
  • discussed the way simile is used in the poem to creates comparisons between things which share different characteristics;
  • discussed the way metaphor is used in the poem to create comparisons between things which share different characteristics;
  • to compare the use of simile and metaphor and make judgements about which is used more effectively and why.

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Lesson on 'The News' by Michael Rosen

By the end of the lesson the pupils will have:

  • discussed the nature of nonsense poetry and how it turns what we think of as everyday life and language upside down to create new and strange meanings;
  • written a simple nonsense poem through the technique of repetition and juxtaposition of unlikely phrases.

View page

Lesson on 'Granny is' by Valerie Bloom

By the end of the lesson the pupils will have:

  • discussed the way the poem uses simple metaphors to describe the character and personality of 'Granny';
  • made a poem using their own metaphorical descriptions of a grandmother.

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Glossary term

Sestina

A form that uses six six-line stanzas, each using the same six words at the end of its lines in different orders, followed by an envoi of three lines using two of those words to each line. They tend to be written in iambic pentameter, and without rhyme.

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A tour of the Archive with Dr Rowan Williams

Poetry happens at a sort of junction in the mind when new combinations start up, words and pictures start connecting...

Featured Guided Tours