Roger Stevens treated our trainee teachers to an entertaining, interactive and inspiring event on poetry this morning. Performing poetry from a selection of his anthologies, he demonstrated how easy it would be to show children how much fun they could have with poetry. And we all got to participate too – repeating lines from poems, performing actions and even writing our own poem about an annoying, scary, hungry, flappy, comical, boisterous, noisy seagull!
Roger suggested using poetry to teach children literary techniques, such as alliteration, similes, metaphors and also to teach aspects of grammar, such as adjectives.
We looked at how we could get children to create a poem about a school, using Roger’s poem about a school of chickens as a guide. We could choose the type of school to write about: a school of chickens, a school of zombies, a school of monkeys, a school of superheroes. The list was endless. We would then give the children the task of listing 10 – 15 things that would happen at this school. These would then be narrowed down to 6 things, which would be re-arranged to create a poem.
Other ideas which were also raised during the session, included giving children their own private personal notebooks in which to do daily writing, participating in the Foyle Young Poets Award, embracing life as a gorilla poet, getting children to rewrite nursery rhymes and involving them in performance poetry – where they get to choose how the performance is made interesting.
The final word of advice from Roger was to focus on getting children to love words and encouraging them to express themselves. Roger’s books are available in the Curriculum Centre, many of which include tips and activities relating to teaching poetry to children. There is also a Teacher Zone on his Poetry Zone website, which gives lesson plans and activities for teaching poetry.