JAMES CARTER’S FIVE TOP POETRY TIPS

How do you teach poetry? I haven’t a clue! How do you do poetry? Well, that’s another matter…

 ONE – There’s a lovely school just down the road from me, a big Primary school, with two classes per year group. Every single morning in every single class every single teacher READS THEIR CLASS A POEM. The teachers say it has boosted reading, writing and general literacy. It’s got the boys interested, enthused, motivated. Why not have a go? Need a good book or two? There’s a list below…

 TWO – Poetry modules are good, but what’s even gooder is cross-curricular poetry. Writing a limerick for the sake of writing a limerick is the tail wagging the dog, isn’t it? Writing a river shape poem or a Vikings kenning or four haikus about the seasons or a midline acrostic about a rainforest is far more purposeful and exciting and is writing with a context and a purpose. Poetry wants to express and explore something exciting! Whatever your topic is right now, your class will be able to write some terrific poems based on whatever you are studying. Try it!

 THREE – Next to the door of your classroom is a thing called a wall! Use that wall to put up an exciting poetry display every few weeks or so. Try shape poems or poems by Michael Rosen or haikus or poems that don’t rhyme or poems about football or hey, poems by your class…

 FOUR – Here’s something for grown-ups only… One lunchtime, have a poetry readathon in the staffroom. All the teachers and TAs (aka Totally Awesomes!) photocopy and read out their favourite children’s poems. Once they’ve done this, they plaster the poems all over the school – in the reception area, the corridors, the hall, hey, even the loos…

 FIVE – Have a POETRY SHOW. Get every class learning and performing poems. Try dressing up. Try actions. Break the poem down with different groups doing different verses. Get two children to introduce the poem, saying why they’ve chosen it. Get the audience to join in with different parts. Invite the parents. Good poems for performance? Gran Can You Rap? by Jack Ouseby / Boneyard Rap by Wes Magee / The Dragon Who Ate Our School by Nick Toczek / Talking Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah / Wanna Be A Star by Tony Mitton, for starters…

 Children love poetry, and I’ve met so many Primary teachers admitting they were ‘scared’ (that’s the word they always use!)  of doing poetry, and have been so surprised by the fantastic results when they have tried it. Do it once a year and the results will be minimal. Do it every week, sorry, EVERY DAY (a poem only takes a minute or so to read, doesn’t it?) and the results will be manifold. WHAT NOT TO LIKE?

The Puffin Book Of Utterly Brilliant Poetry – ed. Brian Patten

SENSTATIONAL! Ed Roger McGough

Read Me and Laugh – ed. Gaby Morgan

The First Puffin Book of Poetry – ed. June Crebbin

Plum – Tony Mitton

Zim Zam Zoom (why not?) – James Carter

 

www.jamescarterpoet.co.uk