Following on from last week’s Advent poetry blogpost, this week’s contribution comes from one of our Coventry teachers, Gemma Clarke, and focuses on the trials and tribulations of teaching poetry.
How do you feel when poetry crops up in your literacy units? Does it fill you with dread? Do you leave it until the end of term, hoping you might run out of time and not have to teach it? So did I. When people moaned about teaching poetry, I would secretly mumble groans of agreement whilst reciting the official mantra, like any good literacy leader would, about it being just as important as all the rest. But now I truly believe the words which I’d so often spoken in disbelief.
Throughout my career I have been motivated and inspired by many excellent teachers who have helped me along my way, but I never came across anyone who really liked poetry. Until I became addicted to Pie. And no, I’m not suffering from British Bake Off withdrawal.
I do, of course, mean the quirkily wonderful literacy guru himself: Pie Corbett. I stumbled upon Pie Corbett’s ‘Jumpstart Poetry’ book by accident when ordering his ‘Jumpstart Literacy’ book. Henceforth I discovered this little treasure, which is as brilliant as its more famous cousin ‘Jumpstart Literacy’, except it did something even more amazing for me. It helped me fall in love with teaching poetry.
The wondrous pages crammed with practical ideas excited me from the start, and only proved to have the same effect on the children. There are hundreds of games and activities designed to get children playing with poems, investigating poems and most importantly, enjoying poems. A firm favourite, to really get children thinking about the importance of every word they choose, is ‘If you had £1 and words cost 10p, which ones would you buy?’ It never fails to engage children in serious, in-depth discussions about whether gleaming or dazzling is more worthy of their 10p.
So the next time you are feeling uninspired by poetry, delve beneath the covers of this one-of-many-masterpieces by an ever enthusiastic literary genius. I challenge you not to find something hiding among the pages that inspires and engages you and your class!
What inspires you when you teach poetry? Please share ideas and resources, and even children’s work. Take a look at our Poetry Pinterest board for more ideas.