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Your Career• 3 Min read

25th March 2021

Teaching Poetry In Primary & Secondary School

Poetry is a fantastic gateway to a deeper understanding of the world for your pupils in any year group.  Poetry is a key form of expression that should form part of all young people’s education experience. From a young age, learning through rhyme and verse is a natural part of human development and as children get older, relating to the world and being able to express themselves in another format benefits all areas of learning. If you haven’t explored poetry much in your teaching, let all the fantastic poems shared online for World Poetry Day inspire you and try out some of these ways to bring poetry into your lessons and inspire a lifelong love of poetic literature in your pupils.

Teaching Poetry In Primary School

Primary students will benefit from regular formal and informal exposure to poetry. Many children’s authors make use of rhyme in their work. Stories like The Gruffalo are familiar to most children and form a great way to introduce the concepts of rhyming language to your class. There are lots of ways you can make it fun too – ask your pupils to write and then act out a new page or verse to the book or to create a new character. If you are looking for great poems for Primary age children, Penguin have provided a useful and hilarious-sounding list here!

Here’s some more ideas for your Primary pupils:

Watch Poetry Live

There are now a huge number of online resources to support teaching poetry in classrooms. Funded by The Art’s Council, England, the Children’s Poetry Archive  aims to record and store poems for children in an accessible way. The site is easy to use and already has hundreds of recordings to download and share with your class.

Teach Retention and Recall

Reciting poetry is a great way to improve memory. There are countless poems (and countless potential to write your own!) written to help memorise information. Many have been used by teachers for decades to help children remember things!

“Divorced, beheaded, died; Divorced, beheaded, survived”

Teach composition and handwriting skills

Poetry is a fantastic writing exercise especially for younger pupils that may struggle to focus long enough to write a story.  Your classes poems will make a great wall display to show off their skills!

Perform Poetry In Class

Inspire your class with an inspiring performance of your own. If you have a passion a for poetry, you can bring poems to life with lively reading. We love these tips from poet Micheal Rosen on performing poetry for an audience.

Celebrate or Create Events

Poetry lends itself well to live events, giving children the opportunity to plan, write and perform their own work is a fantastic confidence builder. You could also consider inviting local poets to your school, via Zoom or in person, to share their work and contribute to inspiring a new generation of poets.

Allow Creative Expression

Children need the opportunity to talk about themselves and their own experiences and feelings. It’s possible to allow complete freedom of expression whilst providing structured learning – for example, by setting a task to write a haiku or writing in the style of a classic poet but leaving the subject matter relatively open.

Teaching Poetry To Secondary Pupils

Teaching poetry in secondary schools offers a chance to study poetry on a deeper level. The variations of language within poetry make it an excellent tool for studying syllables, alliteration, rhyming language, dialects, sentence construction and lots more.

Older children will be able to study longer, more complex text with more colloquial and archaic language. They should be able to interpret meanings behind the words, both an individual verse and in the context of the whole piece. Studying poems at this level will enable students to gain an deeper comprehension of language and forms of expression.

Teaching Metaphors

Poems make use of language to share more complex meanings than their words portray. You can use poetry to teach your students to identify comparisons within poetry, to decode metaphors and to predict or summarise the overall meaning or purpose of the poem. These skills are useful for decoding longer texts and they reinforce the understanding of metaphors and hidden meanings in every day communication too.

GCSE Poetry

Writing and analysing poetry forms part of GCSE level education for pupils. The Anthology component of the 2021 English Literature exam papers give teachers the opportunity to teach students about poetry as part of the English qualification. The most inspiring teachers will seek out new ways to teach material, allowing pupils to form their own ideas and feelings towards the poems which will enable them to write better exam answers.

Teaching Content Subjects

There’s huge potential for using poetry to teach other subjects. Retention and recall of information is relevant to all ages, and learning by reciting rhymes is a great tactic for revision. We found this popular Chromosome Poem for helping students remember the basics of what chromosomes do. There’s loads of lesson ideas and poems to help students learn scientific vocabulary in this great resource on Science Friday too!

We hope this has inspired you to find new ways of teaching poetry – we’d love to hear your ideas and experiences too, join us on twitter here.

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