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More precise about poetry

To relieve the monotony of annotating the anthology of poetry for GCSE English, and to promote independent learning in a top set Year 10, I used a VAK (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic) approach, instead of the lecture style.

Pupils were placed in mixed groups according to their ability. Each group was given a particular focus for discussion, based on a poem from the Other Cultures section of our anthology. In the past, I have asked pupils to give feedback verbally and found that they have not clarified their ideas effectively. To overcome this, each group had to summarise their ideas within 10 minutes. It gave them something practical to do and an end product.

We used the questions from AQA's Anthology Teacher's File:

* What are your initial thoughts about the meaning of this poem?

* What are the poet's feelings, attitudes and ideas?

* Look at and comment on the structure and shape of the poem.

* Look at the poet's effective use of words in the poem. How does he or she use language to portray ideas?

* Comment on the use of rhyme and rhythm in the poem.

* Comment on the use of poetic devices in the poem - visual and auditory.

* What links are there to other poems in the collection?

The sheets were then displayed around the room and pupils were invited to read each other's ideas.

Finally, they were encouraged to annotate their anthologies with the shared ideas of their peers.

Jenny Silby

English teacher, Cressex Community School, Bucks

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