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English - In the spotlight

A poem about poems

Sophie Turner, 25, had wanted to be a teacher since Year 8, when she "used to go to the local primary at lunchtime to help with reading".

The newly qualified teacher, who graduated from Bath Spa University in July last year, says her interest lies in motivating children, those she calls the "middle learners", to realise that "if at first you don't succeed" doesn't mean you won't.

After moving to Bristol last year with her new husband and speaking to her mother-in-law Susie, a special needs teacher, Ms Turner came up with a clever poem designed to help children, including pupils with special educational needs, remember all the terms used for discussing poetry.

Both she and her mother-in-law have since found it an excellent learning and revision tool, much to Ms Turner's delight.

"I saw how pupils found it difficult to decode unseen poetry," she says. "They relied heavily on notes to explain the poem and not their own ability to understand what it was saying.

"By providing a poem that decoded poetry, I have tried to break this cycle and enable students to see it as an onion with many layers. It took me rather a long time."

The poem

There are different types of poems that you can just create.

First start decoding and open that metaphoric gate.

To decode a poem just read it through and through.

And think really hard at what it means to you.

Think about a simile LIKE as tall AS a tree.

Think about alliteration as in "see that slow silly sea".

But when using alliteration remember the rule of three.

Sound is most important, not just letters, it is key.

Do not forget a metaphor AS it should never do.

The stench of stinking failure does not suit you.

As it stands there taunting me, the evil little pot.

Personification is it now and so you've had your lot.

Emotive as I've made you feel just by using rhyme.

It can be said that not every poem always has to rhyme.

Download Ms Turner's poem at

What else?

BelfastAndy has created an extensive guide to answering the unseen poetry question in the AQA English Literature GCSE, pupils need to achieve an AA*.

For a precise introduction to haikus, limericks, acrostics and concrete poems, see Mariewebster's detailed presentation.

lowrip1ckle has shared an adaptable activity for literary terms and definitions.

In the forums

English teachers share ideas for a descriptive-writing lesson plan.

And there are tips and ideas for a PGCE student on constructing a great descriptive-writing lesson.

Find all links and resources at

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