Lesson on 'Red Boots On' by Kit Wright
In this lesson pupils will explore how poetic form can be brought to bear on a simple experience, lending it shape and symbolic power. Pupils will have the opportunity to listen to a poet talking about and reading his own work. They will be invited to write their own poetry as well as share their responses to each other's newly written poems. Some pupils may also begin to explore how they might present their own poetry choices to younger pupils to encourage these pupils' interest in poetry.
- 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.
- Poetry Archive recording of Kit Wright reading his poem 'Red Boots On'
- multiple copies of the poem in its original form
- multiple copies of the poem with the stanzas re- arranged (for the sequencing activity)
- multiple copies of a selection of nursery rhymes
- copies of poems in draft form, eg Wilfred Owen's drafts in Forms of Poetry (see below)
- highlighter pens
Teaching sequence of activities
a choice of four possibilities
Prepositions. Listen to the recording of 'Red Boots On' once. Then give a copy of the text to the pupils. Put pupils in pairs to highlight all the prepositions in the poem. Then ask them to suggest reasons why prepositions are used so frequently in this poem.
Names. In pairs, pupils highlight the use of proper nouns. Ask them to suggest why the poet has used all these names and lead into a more general discussion about why poets try to be as specific as possible.
Nursery rhymes. Pupils highlight different poetic features e.g. rhyme, repetition, symbols. Get them to discuss ways in which this poem is like a nursery rhyme, and look at some nursery rhymes to analyse how they work poetically.
Objects. You could also simply ask pupils to bring in an object that is very important to them. Encourage pupils to give a brief oral presentation on their object and why it is important.
Sequencing. This poem will lend itself well to sequencing. To do this you can give pupils a sheet with all the verses mixed up, so that they still make sense but are not in the same order as the original. Then ask the pupils in pairs to put the poem into the 'right' order. (Less able pupils may welcome an explanation first about what they will then have to do, and then actually listen to the poem being read. With a very able class, it would probably be best to do the sequencing activity without hearing the poem first.) Pupils can discuss in small groups the poems they have made and justify their choice of order, then listen to the recording again to compare it with their own choices.
Writing. Instruct pupils to write about their own or someone else's object in the style of 'Red Boots On'. Alternatively, take one feature of the Kit Wright poem and use that as a model. For example, the poem must have a chorus, or a similar rhythmical structure.
The plenary sessions for this lesson will depend on which development of the lesson you have chosen. Sharing of newly written poems is always important for pupils, especially if they begin to learn to use technical language in their responses to each other's work. It is usually best to follow a simple rule of positive comments only until the class trust each other enough to make appropriate critical responses which are intended to help the writing of poetry.
This is also a good opportunity to focus on the importance of re-drafting work to improve it wherever possible. Emphasis on final presentation of a poem can then be recommended for wall displays, a class anthology, or poetry competition, so pupils can learn the importance of technical accuracy for a real or imagined audience.
- Pupils will discuss personal responses to published poetry and also the poetry of their peers.
- Pupils will work in groups to share ideas and responses.
- Pupils will develop/consolidate critical vocabulary relevant for the discussion of poetry in general and 'Red Boots On' specifically. In particular, pupils will increase understanding of rhyme, rhythm and symbol.
- Pupils will write their own poetry and, in so doing, explore how experience and emotion may be shaped in words.
- Pupils will practise reading, listening, writing and redrafting skills.
- Pupils will increase their knowledge of, and express their individual responses to, a poem.
- Pupils will practise skills of presentation and sense of audience.
Individual, paired or group work
- Pupils discuss the significance of red as a symbol, and how else this poem could be interpreted in light of the different symbolic qualities of red (eg the poem exploring a rite of passage/sexual experience, winter also having a symbolic significance.)
- Encourage pupils to observe or photograph people walking and take notes on the way they walk, what they are wearing, where they might be going, etc. Use these notes to create their own poem or rap to perform or read aloud to the rest of the class. The pupils could use Kit Wright's poem as a model if they wanted to.
- Less able pupils could write their own version of a poem. The street names can be changed, the red boots replaced with another object and the poem can be set in a different season, but the main structure of the original is kept as a writing frame for their own piece.
- Pupils of all abilities prepare a group reading of the poem to perform to the class.
- Give a group of Kit Wright poems to more able pupils. Ask them to research the poet's life and work and then make a presentation to the rest of the class to extend everyone's knowledge.
- Ask more able pupils to find their own selection of poems to introduce to younger pupils. The poems should include some of the specific features they have explored in Kit Wright's work. Ask pupils to prepare a presentation or a reading of these poems. Ideally, organise an opportunity for them to present to a more junior class.
- Other poems by Kit Wright
- Examples of nursery rhymes
For research purposes:
The Language and Lore of Schoolchildren by Iona and Peter Opie
Forms of Poetry by Abbs and Richardson (OUP)