From DVD to Poetry
Following six weeks of exploring poetry, Year 9 were ready to kick back and relax as they arrived to today’s ‘Christmas lesson’ (so named due to it being our final lesson of the year). Pupils entered with the expected grumblings of, “Are we watching a DVD today Miss?” but left eager to get started on writing their own poetry. I thought it might be worth sharing how that change came about.
Pupils are now used to discussing the “Clarify, Prepare, Share” question as they enter the room. Today’s question was “What makes the perfect Christmas song? “ Expecting the usual moans over DVDs and ‘fun’ lessons, my next step needed to be motivational…
Being one step ahead of their questions, on the board was the question, “Why would you even want to know the answer to this?” Printed on their desk was a copy of a recent article from the Daily Telegraph, detailing the profits made year after year from best-selling Christmas songs. Topping the sales charts was Slade’s Merry Christmas, earning around £ 500,000 every year.
In true MAnglish style, I showed no negativity as together we estimated how much money they may have actually made since first releasing the song. I had their attention.
Search For Meaning
After deciding that creating their own Christmas song was definitely a good idea, pupils were given the lyrics from some of the top ten Christmas songs and asked to investigate the differences and similarities between them. Pupils began eagerly analysing the structure, language and meaning of songs they usually just sing along to. At this time of year, pupils are always asking for Christmas music to be played in lessons; I usually don’t oblige but this had real purpose. Their investigation resulted in a recipe for the perfect Christmas song.
In small groups, they began to plan out their ideas using the GAP SPLITT planning structure, usually used to plan for extended writing. However, it works just as well for poetry (once pupils know how to use it). Pupils put into practice their knowledge of poetry, gained over this last half term, and related it to Christmas songs to develop their own creative ideas for a best seller.
This is a difficult time of year to keep pupils learning. It is cold, Christmas is at the forefront of their minds and, for some reason, they believe it is their right to watch films in every lesson. Linking pupils’ learning from this term to a purposeful and challenging Christmas task, one that required research, reasoning and creativity turned out to be challenging, fun and, who knows, it could lead to one of them making their fortune in song writing one day.