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English

Ages 11 to 14

We generate a sense of excitement when studying poetry by presenting pupils with a selection of anonymous but numbered song lyrics and rhythmic poems.

They then read them aloud to each other, and work out which are songs and which are poems. This is the perfect lead into questions such as: "So what makes a poem different from a lyric?" or, "Is good song writing actually poetry?"

We used writers such as Jamiroquai, Travis, Sheryl Crow, David Gray, Catatonia and Puff Daddy alongside mainstream poets John Agard, Sophie Hannah and Don Paterson. We also used the video Driftwood by Travis, which appealed to visual learners. After looking closely at the lyrics, pupils watched the video, first without sound, then trying to connect word and image.

We gave them the opening verse to a cheesy pop song, and asked them to rewrite it as a rap, power ballad, punk number or love song. Before they knew it, they were playing with language and writing poetry

Suzie Phillips and Jan Carter teach English at Bungay Middle School, Suffolk

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