5th October 2021
This Thursday it’s the annual poetry bonanza of National Poetry Day in the UK and this year’s theme is choice. This theme couldn’t be more relevant for Poetry By Heart which all starts with pupils choosing a poem. Over at the National Poetry Day website you’ll see our friends there have launched an array of resources and toolkits, including posters and lesson plans – plenty of free stuff – to encourage your students to think about how they create, read and respond to poetry.
National Poetry Day is also a great day to think about poetry beyond its demands for exams and assessment. It’s a day to think about the big wide life of poetry, for enjoyment, for sharing, for talking about, for creativity and for wellbeing. Teachers have often told us that Poetry By Heart helps children and young people to engage with poetry in different ways, creating a real buzz about the school, developing confidence in the shyest pupils, and creating a more personal opportunity to own, inhabit and share their chosen poems. Last week’s blog entry written by a class at Linden Lodge School – providing education and support to sensory and/or visually impaired children – attests to the importance of poetry for all.
The team at Poetry By Heart have contributed two activities to the National Poetry Day collection. One is for primary pupils, the other for secondary, and both are all about selecting a poem from our online anthologies and then developing active approaches to speaking it out loud. The first activity, for Key Stages 1 and 2, could get you started with Laura Richards’ comic poem ‘Eletelephony’. The second, for older students in Key Stages 3, 4 and 5, focuses on Paul Dunbar’s poem ‘We Wear The Mask’. Click on either image below to be directed to the activity’s PDF file.
If those don’t pique your interest, here are some more ideas for kickstarting your National Poetry Day that we shared in our fortnightly Poetry Forum last week. We’d love to hear what you get up to this National Poetry Day, whether you try out one of the ideas here or have other fantastic plans lined up. So far our favourite is a small rural primary school in Suffolk where the class are all bringing in a favourite poem to share over mugs of hot chocolate. Hot chocolate and poetry! We’d love to hear your stories – Tweet-sized with pics over on @poetrybyheart or write us a longer piece for the blog!
1. Speak a favourite/random poem
Rehearse and simply speak your own favourite poem in assembly, form group or at the start or end of a lesson. You could say why it’s your favourite poem too. Or flip it and get pupils sharing their favourite poems. And for absolutely zero preparation on the day, hit the random poem button at the very bottom of the homepage, see what you get and read it aloud – or to keep the randomness within the KS2-3 poem selections, click the yellow random poem square at the bottom of any poem in the Mix It Up collection.
2. Learn a poem together
You could try one of our Learn-Along poem activities (you will need to register for free to access these). These take one poem and one class and you all have a go at learning and performing the poem in one lesson. The powerpoint resource gives you all the slides you need to take your class through the poem, with teacher instructions in the notes field. The activity invites everyone to join in with you, repeating the poem aloud together in different ways, with visual memory cues and blank fills to help work towards a memorised performance. Possible in one lesson? You bet it is!
If you’d like us to run a free Zoom workshop where we run through these activities together for teachers/staff at your school, contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0117 905 5338.
3. Introduce Poetry By Heart
Use our launch slides to introduce Poetry By Heart to your class, poetry club or year group. The 5 minute film of this year’s Finalists’ Celebration Event at Shakespeare’s Globe, London, is on slide 4 – great to show where your pupils could be next summer. Sometimes security filters will block the video from playing so test it first and ask an IT technician to unblock it if necessary. It’s just a Vimeo link – nothing nasty!
4. Set October’s calendar challenge for Black History month
Check out the October challenge in the Poetry By Heart digital calendar. The October poem is Eloise Greenfield’s poem ‘Harriet Tubman’, about the American women who escaped enslavement and then rescued many other people. The challenge is to learn and perform this poem for other people as part of Black History month learning and celebration, or any other poem in the Poetry By Heart collection that recounts an aspect of Black History. You might have already had your paper copy in the post; if not, register now and we’ll send you one!