Best Practice

Reading and writing poetry: Some top tips and lesson ideas

Poetry can be a tough sell for some young people, but it is worth persevering. Stephanie Nobes – a teacher trailblazer for the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award – offers some quick tips and lesson ideas to hook your students

Like all teachers, I have stolen many ideas from other practitioners and working bodies, so cannot take full credit for any of the ideas in the following article. However, I can truthfully say that I have tried and tested these methods and they have helped me time and time again when teaching poetry.

Nothing is more satisfying than converting a class of poetry-loathers into poetry-lovers. Hopefully these activities will convert yours, too.

Reading poetry

Thrice read: Actually having time to process the words and story of a poem can be overlooked when you are trying to engage a rowdy class of year 10s. However, it is key to understanding. Try reading aloud as a class to begin with, then allow students to read aloud as a pair. Ask them to consider the rhythm and pace at which they read – they can then discuss why they are reading it similarly/differently from one another. Finally, ask students to whisper the poem to themselves.

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