I so love it when a lesson brings results that far outweigh my expectations!
Therefore, I'd like to share one such lesson on the joys of Cut Up Poetry with a class of 30 six to seven year olds with almost three-quarters of the class made up of boys!
They were allowed to choose their working groups of 4-5 children) with the proviso that too much noise or not joining in would mean that I would be free to remodel the groups! This naturally led to a good mixed ability range for each group. I then chose one child from each group to be the leader, who then chose from within their team one to be the reporter, one to be responsible for resources and one/two to be the artistic director/team
Although, I teach a two week poetry unit this lesson would probably work as a stand alone.
The ideas, history of the concept and the task were explained and some examples shown - most notably from some of The Beatles songs.
Each group then sent their resource manager to collect a selection of local newspaper pages and advertisement flyers, enough pairs of scissors for each child and a large piece of coloured sugar paper - at this stage NO glue was given out.
The children were then given approximately 15 minutes to read and cut out interesting headlines or phrases and gather these together for the next stage.
The next 15 mins were for the children to discuss and sort their headlines and phrases into a poetic form and it was at this point that I was blown away by their speaking and listening skills as they discussed their options, talked about how the words sounded and which bits fitted better and why, commented on each other's suggestions without anyone getting upset and positioned and re-positioned their words upon the large sheet of sugar paper.
They then had approximately 5 mins to meet with another group to read through and discuss any changes they thought might make the poem even better and discuss a title for their poem - then and only then were they allowed to stick their words onto the sheet of paper as their final poem with additional artistic elements added by their chosen group member.
After breaktime: the reporter from each group then read out their poem and each of the other groups gave a positive comment or a constructive criticism on it. Yet again their comments showed how much they were listening and engaged with the poetry they were all creating.
I think one of the main reasons for such success with this lesson was that it took physical writing out of the picture which for many of these boys they still struggle with. They didn't have to worry about spellings or punctuation or how neat their hand writing was. Instead they could just focus all their energy into reading and "playing" with the words.
I am so sorry that I wasn't able to photograph their finished poems in all their glory to show you here but instead I'll try to give you a taste by one of the all boy groups who would normally have struggled a lot during a literacy lesson -
The poem was framed by a goal mouth
A Hat Trick Penalty
Get it now
Why wait ?
Are your windows safe?
Homes in Your Area
That's why I've got a smile that stretches from ear to ear :)
Have you ever tried this type of process to inspire a poem or song lyrics or even a short story? Have you done this type of poetry at school yourself? I'd love to know - so please leave a comment below :)