Wednesday, April 18, 2007

a poem in the classroom

I've just received a copy of Literature 2nd edn: a resource book for teachers by Alan Duff and Alan Maley, published by Oxford University Press

It includes by poem To M.M.

The first time
we met as strangers.
We parted as friends.
The second time
we met as friends.
We parted as lovers.
The last time
we met as lovers.
We parted as friends.
We did not meet again.
We are now
not even friends.

below it is a similar-themed poem by Brian Patten.

Students are given a worksheet with a list of all the individual words from the poem and asked to make sentences using them. Then, in groups of four, they are to string the sentences together to create a new poem.

The book is aimed at teachers of language, particularly those of students for whom English is not their first language. It seems to be quite a fascinating book and if it encourages students to look at literature in fresh ways, that can only be worthwhile.


  1. Do you think that sort of 'workshop' approach has a beneficial effect on students' appreciation of what poetry actually is? or merely on opening up their writing? I tend to think it reduces creativity to the level of painting by numbers. But I always had a horror of worksheets in the classroom anyway ...

  2. What I wanted to say is: Is it sad or inevitable that a whole relationship can be broken down into just those few encounters?

    But then I found myself responding to Chris: I'd have thought that approach could encourage the student to consider the impilcations of word choice, and how a simple word can work differently in different situation, reinforcing the idea of writing shared process between exploring other people's work and then producing something of your own. But what do I know?

    Sounds interesting anyway.

  3. I think it opens them up to poetry by opening up word play for them and by working as a group exchanging ideas. Is it my imagination or is there a resurgence of poetry in elementary schools? I've read recently of an American and know of a Mexican school using parent volunteers to teach poetry to 5th graders, the latter is all boys and they seem to love the class.