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Teaching Poetry?

Discussion in 'English' started by thethiefoftime, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. thethiefoftime

    thethiefoftime Occasional commenter

    We're starting to teach poetry to Year 10 soon and we are trying to move away from teaching Point Evidence Explain and other various acronyms. Does anyone please have any ideas for helping students access poetry AND write about it well without having to use such a rigid framework? Any suggestions would be most welcome!
    JosieWhitehead likes this.
  2. englishteach101

    englishteach101 Occasional commenter

    I've only taught with a rigid framework before, so would be keen to piggy back any thoughts from other teachers. The one thing I do do is constantly ask the students 'why?'- why has the poet chosen to use a simile there, why a metaphor, for what purpose? I lead with a lot of questions.
  3. MissHallEnglish

    MissHallEnglish Occasional commenter Forum guide and community helper

    Another acronym: SMILE.
    Structure, Meaning, Imagery, Language, Effect

    I find it can be a little more fluid for higher ability sets, rather than the rigid PEA. Once they 'get it', PEA does work well, especially for groups that need more scaffolding.

    For the unseen poetry element in the exam, I found the students had better results because there some something to look for and an order in which to write about elements of the poem.
  4. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    I'm both a retired teacher and a poet. I hate the idea actually that children have to analyse poetry so much, especially in teenage years. I know it was a long time ago when I was a child but we just read and enjoyed poetry for the sake of enjoyment and never ever had to learn about personification, metaphors, iambic tetrameter or anapaests. I think we just soaked this up in the poems we read, and when I started to write for children in my local school well into my retirement from teaching, I actually wrote all of these things without having learnt about them. The "soaking up" of good poetry is so important and the enjoyment of poetry too. Children listen to music and enjoy it, but they don't have to learn all the technicalities right from the start. I have a listening page on my website with lots of poems and I'd love the children to come to this page regularly, both at school and home, and soak up my good poems. Hope this helps.
  5. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    PEE etc are highly structured ways of writing about poetry in order to pass specific exams. I would still teach that but after exploring the poetry. I do lots of reading out loud and discussion in a fairly fluid way. Sometimes I will ask pupils to discuss the meaning of key words before reading the poem and then after see if they mean the same in context.
    thethiefoftime likes this.
  6. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    We deconstruct sample responses and the students get in pairs or teams to create their own checklists / formulae / acronyms - whatever works best for them. They have to present it to another group and explain how it maps to the models, before applying it.
    It always interests me to see what they come up with. Sometimes they end up copying what they consider to be 'the best'; other times there's a range - some do fall back on things like PEE (especially if I ask them to research what's out there first).
    I also do think-alouds where I create a paragraph of analysis asking myself questions about the text, encouraging myself to 'zoom in' on words and consider why they've been used, the effect they have on me etc. This includes an edit at the end where I replace generic terms with technical ones, tidy up the organisation of my ideas and generally improve the quality and conciseness of the writing. (Recording these would be a good habit to get into so they can access them at will - on my 'to do' for next time.)
    When they witness / read enough examples, the penny often drops.
    thethiefoftime likes this.
  7. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    When I was a child - oh way back in the Middle Ages, ha ha - we didn't do the things which you have mentioned, and I think I only met the words similes, personification, metre etc when I studied poetry for GCE English Literature. But when I was a child, and in and after the war years we didn't get many books, I discovered poetry in my local library, ie the works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter de la Mare, Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear and more and I had to do nothing more than just read it on my own (or with my parents) and soak up the language and the magic of how words could dance across the page in such a wonderful way. They didn't need music to make them dance. I loved the imagery that was used and it sent my mind into overdrive. Everyone, or almost everyone, of my age were steam train enthusiasts. They either stood on the stations taking down the train numbers, or we waved madly from bridges and the drivers and guard expected to see children there and were ready also to wave. So when I read "From a Railway Carriage" by R S Stevenson, it filled me with such joy to think that trains could compete with fairies and witches for speed, and that you could put the diddledy-dee of the sound into words, We just soaked up the language without having once to take it to pieces. We all had to learn poems by heart (and lots and lots of other things too) and so did our parents and grandparents. We loved reciting poems to each other. We learnt how to project our voices clearly across the classroom, and we had to put good expression into our voices and body language. So much was learnt by heart then. They can't change a word in a familiar hymn or carol and think that our generation don't notice it. I now write and write and write poems for children day by day, week by week and year by year - and I never once have to worry about the sounds within the poems or personification etc - although I use all of this - and I am 100% sure that by listening to poetry and later by reading it, this is what has helped me and others of my generation. Strip poetry of the magical ingredients which I've mentioned above, and especially the rhyme and the various metres, and for me, poetry becomes flat as a pancake and dull beyond words. Let children listen to good rhythmical poetry every day that they are at school and also let them hear it at home too.

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