Workshops on selected poems
Road tested and battle-hardened ideas for responding imaginatively and creatively to some of Gillian Clarke’s and Carol Ann Duffy’s poems for children
by Chris Stephens
These teacher’s notes are intended as a springboard for further work, and are not written as a step-by-step analysis of each chosen poem, or as lesson plans. It is anticipated that teachers and parents will enjoy sharing the selected poems with their children, and explore and explain in their own way, any difficulties which the young audience might encounter either in the content of the poems, or the language used.
While we recognise that it is important that children understand the texts, if they are to fully appreciate them, (although of course enjoyment does not necessarily demand total understanding, and understanding does not equate with enjoyment) there is a world of poetry which extends far beyond the cold comprehension of assessment, and the evidence of inference and deduction.
Here are ideas for responding imaginatively and creatively to some of Gillian’s and Carol Ann’s poems for children in a variety of ways – by writing other types of verse through modelled, shared and independent writing sessions, by following up suggestions for other poems on similar subjects, and for researching some of the less familiar subject areas.
The text of each original poem is included.
Besides the teaching ideas themselves, each unit also contains comments by children who have heard and discussed the poems, together with some of their own poetry, written in response to the activities suggested, and trialled by the compiler of the resources. There is no ‘age recommendation’ attached to the poems, for as with all poetry, the appeal and accessibility of the poems seems to spread beyond a pre-perceived ‘market’. I was fortunate enough to share them primarily with a mixed age bilingual class (Years 3-6) in a village school in Pembrokeshire, where the younger children responded as enthusiastically – and as astutely – as their older classmates.
Our thanks go to the Junior class from Wolfscastle CP School, and Year 6 children at Johnston CP School, and their teachers.