Unit Summary (3 weeks)
This unit provides a poetry focus which takes students through various close reading strategies aimed at getting them interested, curious and pleasurably engaged with the way language works in poetry to make meaning. The poems in this unit represent a range of cultures, times, voices and levels of difficulty. Teachers should feel free to change the order of the stages or use some in isolation.
In Stage One, students compare the use of imagery in two love poems, one by John Cooper Clarke and one by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. This is done through a line matching game and a rap version of Browning’s poem.
In Stage Two students explore the themes and language of ‘Ozymandias’ by Shelley. After a short sequence of pre-reading activities they consider its meaning further by doing some imaginative writing. The aim is to engage them with what on first sight seems an inaccessible poem and to get them into the habit of paying attention to language in poetry.
In Stage Three students speculate on ‘The Sick Rose’ by Blake as it is revealed to them line by line. They read and discuss comments by other KS3 students as a way of sorting out their own ideas and responses. The aim is to show that many different ideas about one poem may exist.
In Stage Four students compare three short poems by Grace Nichols, Osip Mandelstam and Debjani Chatterjee, which share the themes of silence and the power of the word. The emphasis lies on the way the precise use of language in poetry wrestles with ‘big’ ideas, experiences and themes.
In Stage Five students select any of the poems in this unit (there are some more printed at the end) and choose one to work on for a live reading or performance to the rest of the class as another way of providing an interpretation.