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English Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Learning task 3: Poetry teaching

Students work through a refresher course in poetry. This should include the language of poetry, types of poems, poetry analysis and rhyme/rhythm. A text to work through that makes poetry fun is "Enjoying More Poetry" (Sadler and Hayllar 1988). The work should be provided as a refresher and some background teaching in understanding poetry. Such features need to be taught in the context of the poems in the unit.

The language of poetry

  1.  ONOMATOPOEIA - This means a word which recreates the sound it describes.
     eg. bang, crash, boom, slap, drip, kaboom, gush, splash, ring, squish
  2.  SIMILE - This occurs when comparing two things that are similar. We use the words 'like' or 'as' to compare them
     eg. the tree was like an umbrella
     they were as like as two peas
     as deaf as a doorknob
     the dog was like a monster
  3.  METAPHOR - This occurs when comparing two things that are similar, but we do not use the words 'like' or 'as', instead we directly compare eg. the tree was an umbrella
     the dog was a monster
     the house was my prison
  4.  PERSONIFICATION - This means giving human qualities to objects making them come alive and being able to do human things
     eg. the trees groaned in the wind
     the house shrieked with pain with every lashing of
     the rain
     the car hummed a tune as it drove along
  5.  HYPERBOLE - This is a gross exaggeration. We exaggerate to make something sound worse or to make it sound better than what it is
     eg. I had to tell her a million times-No
     a minute seemed to go by like years
     my cut bled so much, the basin looked like an ocean
  6.  ALLITERATION - This occurs when the sounds of the consonants in a sentence are the same
     eg. Little Lucy likes lollipops
     the cat cried out in pain
     she showed me her shawl
  7.  ASSONANCE - This occurs when the vowel sounds in a sentence are the same
     eg. Round the house was the loud boy
     silly toys are for boys
     the bell fell down the well
  8.  RHYME - This can occur in the middle or end of a sentence. It allows a sentence to flow and gives it rhythm.
     eg. I went to the park one day and I decided to play

Introduction to war poetry

Students should be given a background to World War One and the War poets of that time (see Poetry of the First World War). Look particularly at Wilfred Owen's poetry as a comparison to the patriotic poets of the time.

A selection of poems is needed, and the level of difficulty should be varied.

Assessment: Presenting a poster

Students will present a poster based on a quote from a poem they particularly like. They must have an understanding of verbal and visual techniques such as colour, contrast, line, texture, graphology, layout, symbol and illustration. This should include pre-teaching or revising of static image techniques. Students should first plan and create a rough draft of the static image and have it by a partner prior to creating the final produce. This image can also be used to visually display a war poem that the students have written themselves.


  • Presenting Level 4-5
     See the pain (JPG 58KB)

    This poster shows the image of a soldier indeed in 'pain'. His head is drooped and a tear is shown thus relating the title of the poem to the illustration. The poem is not a great one but you do get a sense of atmosphere in reading the poem and looking at the poster visually. The phrase "as a tear runs down my cheek" shows a combination. The actual poem could have been placed better with regards to the illustration. Graphology could have been used to shape the writing - rather than simply writing the poem on.

    The effect of the pencil is excellent. It is gloomy, dreary and combined with the picture of the soldier creates the overall effect. With more thought given to the layout of the writing, this could have been great. High level four or low level five

  • Presenting Level 5
     See the trenches (JPG 56KB)

    The colour used in the title of this poem is combined with the overall colour of the poster. It also relates to the idea of the muddy trenches written about in the poem. The centre illustration is a trench that leads up the title, and the poem is well positioned in this trench. Thus layout has been thought of carefully. The illustrations around the trench are not as well balanced, but do relate to the "mess" described in the poem and the "debris". The colours are used to create an atmosphere that is dull and harsh.

    The words of the poem link in with the atmosphere created with the visuals, and there is a definite message to the viewer. This is most obvious in the last lines of the poem "they stop to think who sent them/there and then they click./Their mother, their family, their country". This sends the message to patriotic sections of society willing to send their children to war.

     Level 5 - the bottom range of this level.

  • Presenting Level 6
     See the bullet (JPG 40KB)

    The use of brown and black provide a certain atmosphere of death and pain. The way the 'soldier' has his hands placed are as if they have fallen to the ground. The spread fingers emphasise this for the viewer.

    The poem is well placed on the page. It is written around the picture. When on the wall in the classroom, this poster is very effective. You cannot see the poem until you are up close, and this draws the attention of many people who want to read what has up until then been 'hidden'. Overall an effective piece that combines visual and verbal features well. The original has a specific texture - this was painted.

 See the U.S. National Archives: War Posters or Propaganda Posters.

Group work

Students are divided into groups of four. These should be mixed ability groups. Each group is assigned a different war. They look at the poems of the time and perform a group report back on what they found in their . The research process should be followed:
 * Brainstorming topic
 * Deciding
 * Key words
 * Key questions
 * Finding
 * Note taking/sorting
 * Presenting
 * Bibliography
 * Evaluating

The Jigsaw approach would be an effective way of reporting this information.

Published on: 06 Apr 2009