Teaching Poetry in the Primary Classroom

By: Gervase Phinn


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Size: 297mm x 210mm

Pages : 160

ISBN : 9781845901301

Format: Paperback

Published: January 2009


When asked by the school inspector what he thought of poetry, an eleven year old replied that “it’s all la-di-da and daffodils, isn’t it?” In his primary school the boy had come across very little poetry apart from nursery rhymes, snatches of rhyming verse and a few comic pieces and nonsense poems. Poetry to him was something arcane, not really related to his own life. He had studied no powerful, challenging, contemplative, arresting, quirky poems and had written very few poems himself. His teacher admitted that he was no English specialist, had received few ideas at college on the teaching of poetry and didn’t really know where to start.

As children progress through the primary school they need to be exposed to a rich diet of poetry and encouraged to read, perform and write it themselves. Providing a varied and stimulating environment is essential if it is to flourish. In addition, children need specific guidance and ideas to start them off writing their own poems. This book, written by a former teacher and school inspector, and popular and widely published children’s poet, offers an accessible, practical and structured programme for the teaching of this sometimes neglected aspect of the English curriculum.


Picture for author Gervase Phinn

Gervase Phinn

Professor Gervase Phinn taught in a range of schools for fourteen years before becoming an education adviser and school inspector. He is now a freelance lecturer, broadcaster, writer, and a consultant for the Open University. He is President of The School Library Association.


Reviews

  1. Poetry needs to be experienced before it is analysed and when looking at a poem one should always try to bring the listener and the reader closer together, and not come between them. All too often children's first experiences are marred by an inappropriate rush to write. Fortunate children have teachers who lift poetry from the page and expose them to a wide variety of verse. This helps children to understand the techniques of writing poetry. The pleasure principle must remain paramount. Some young pupils, in the haste to prepare them for national tests, interrogate text in maximum pleasure destroying detail. This has the adverse effect and leads to a total dislike of all poems. Close study, at an early age, is not the way to foster a genuine delight and interest in poetry. A poem rarely comes to life with just one reading! But don't forget those younger children who may not have the writing skills, they will have to be helped and supported by sensitive teachers.

    With these thoughts in mind this compendium of poetic ideas will be a boon in every classroom. Set the world alight with poetry in motion! and enjoy.
  2. “Analysis, especially if it is applied too early, makes any poem into a problem instead of an experience. And if the beginner is unlucky, it may become a problem before it has ever been an experience ” ( Edwin Muir, The Estate of Poetry)

    Poetry needs to be experienced before it is analysed and when looking at a poem one should always try to bring the listener and the reader closer together, and not come between them. All too often children's first experiences are marred by an inappropriate rush to write. Fortunate children have teachers who lift poetry from the page and expose them to a wide variety of verse. This helps children to understand the techniques of writing poetry. The pleasure principle must remain paramount. Some young pupils, in the haste to prepare them for national tests, interrogate text in maximum pleasure destroying detail. This has the adverse effect and leads to a total dislike of all poems. Close study, at an early age, is not the way to foster a genuine delight and interest in poetry. A poem rarely comes to life with just one reading! But don't forget those younger children who may not have the writing skills, they will have to be helped and supported by sensitive teachers.

    With these thoughts in mind this compendium of poetic ideas will be a boon in every classroom Set the world alight with poetry in motion! and enjoy.

    The word magician is casting his wondrous spell with myriads of stimulating and exciting ideas for all ages. The joy of conjuring wonderful forms of poetry for reluctant authors is set out with stunning clarity. This is a vital book for primary schools. It is a MUST for every school bookshelf.
  3. At last a book which demystifies the teaching of poetry in such a clear and humorous way, written by that master of literacy, Gervase Phinn. No staff room should be without a copy
  4. I was delighted to read this “treasure trove of dreams' written by Gervase Phinn and as a headteacher, writer and creator of poetry and rhythm myself, I was innovated once more to continue my constant struggle to remove the straight jacket of the Literacy hour and indulge more in poetry.

    The innovative nature of the resource
    The structure of this book makes it a very practical resource and has inspired me to revisit poetry in terms of anthologies of poems; this encourages children to be more creative towards their approach to writing poetry for different audiences. Children are now very adept at writing narrative and non narrative forms but not in terms of poetry. I have recently had published “Creative Circle time lessons for the Early Years' which is centralised around an alphabetical poetry bear theme, with a poem and rhythm for each letter of the alphabet. I was reminded that I wrote this for a very specific purpose of enthusing children's thirst for poetry. I collect poetry books and read them for pleasure and was encouraged from a very early age. This children's anthology will inspire teachers to discover different types of poetry such as ballads that are often under used, in particular, for performance. “The mermaid' was a wonderful example of a performance poem the children would love to be involved in.

    The impact of learning and the work of the teacher in the classroom, to what extent and in which areas
    Examples of this can be seen in the section Chapter 4 “Some starting points with Juniors.'

    The main impact of learning is that Gervase reminds teachers of the specific teaching points for all types of poetry and orders it in terms of learning experiences. He also embellishes the learning with examples of how to use the poems by giving children's examples of their reactions to different poems. His open ended questions on page 27 enables teaching structures to be kept simple for maximum effectiveness with children. Some more detail is found on Page 30 when discussing other areas of focus such as alliteration, imagery and atmosphere and mood.

    I particularly liked the examples of the “Farmgirl' and “The last in the Queue' as I thought these were examples of how to enable children to achieve the structures of poems in a fun way. I also liked “Our Town' as I thought you could encourage parental involvement in a group poem such as the structure of this. I feel parental poetry workshops would be great, using this as a resource and encouraging them to enthuse about poetry with their children.

    How the resource supports or enhances the everyday life or work of teachers, pupils and or schools
    Gervase has been very clever in the fact that he has given teachers a resource list for each category of poem and therefore enabled them to set up a library of poetry books for each specific purpose. The phrase “Look no further”' springs to mind and looking at the recommendations, these are very good examples for teachers and pupils. A school library full of these books would be an excellent start but even better, a team library age related in each Key Stage would be better, to enable immediate ACCESSIBILITY. What I particularly liked, was the check list at the front of the book for encouraging children to write poetry. This would be a good check list for all teachers, when teaching and enthusing about poetry, if everyone followed the 21 points on page 2 and 3 .

    I also liked Gervase's insight into what is needed with the visiting poet to ensure this is a quality experience for children and a learning experience for teachers.

    Cost effectiveness in terms of educational aims and results-not just the price for teachers.
    This is priceless. It is not just another educationalist cashing in on the Literacy hour materials.

    It is written by someone who:

    • understands how children learn

    • knows how to motivate

    • understands how to creatively encourage children to move along the learning journey of poetry



    I will certainly buy it for my school. It is a “treasure' but I also thoroughly enjoyed reading and indulging in it myself (in between the Xmas Turkey so it must have been good!).

    A wonderful resource-not to be missed. Yet again-well done Gervase!
  5. Gervase has clearly articulated an innovative framework which gives primary teachers a poetry resource to enhance the creative environment. Children bathed in language will be enriched by the ideas and opportunities the resource offers.

    The impact on learning accessed by the breadth of poetry held in this anthology and will engage all learners by offering them a plethora of starting points and framework for writing.

    The diverse range of poetry collected and explained, provides support, and enhances the work of teachers and pupils by outlining the wealth of ideas available to them in a practical and accessible format. Gervase shares in the text his love of language and shows how poetry can be a vehicle for the development of skills and knowledge.

    This book will provide an essential tool for primary teachers to enable them to achieve their aim with lots of ideas, engaging poems, to make you laugh and make you cry.

    It is a readable, easily accessible text to support the teaching of poetry in the primary classroom.
  6. I have sploshed many a damp mile with the author of this book, seeking precious jet on Yorkshire shores. Also ancient ammonites on bracing beaches and shin-crack rocks. Together we have sipped amber ales in evening hostelries and competed fiercely for the wildest and funniest tales of infant class or irate governor. Darren's trousers, headless donkeys or of course, the Ofsted lady and the papier mache accident. Personally, 1 recall with pride being the regular winner of the largest lump of jet award, the finest ammonite and just occasionally, the funniest school assembly or dinner lady story.

    I must, however, admit to being an all time runner up when it comes to the -˜teaching of poetry in the classroom' event. For teaching poetry with class 3 Mr Phinn gets the gold medal, podium man. Well done Gervase! 1 found Teaching Poetry in the Primary School hugely readable and just the sort of book that every teacher should take with them on their next trip to the Yorkshire Dales or N.U.T. coach tour. Tons of ideas, plus plentiful laughs and gentle tears.

    And MOST IMPORTANTLY OF ALL, guess what? I have not found an ounce, gram or fairy thimbleful of National Curriculum wordage creeping into the text. There are no cringingly awful and off-putting page headings blazoning AIMS AND TARGETS, OBJECTIVES OR ASSESSMENTS. No nasty literacy hour headings or infringements to besmirch the pure pleasure of poetry reading and writing.

    Nothing to weary the spirit of simply enjoying a poem, and learning how to write a poem for the joy of doing so. Nothing more. So follow the rhyme, enjoy the read. Buy the book and get a pen. Have a go! And take the children with you. This book is for every child in every home or school, dog in kennel or ant in hill. It is for you. It is for word, jet and fossil hunters. Everywhere.
  7. Gervase Phinn has drawn on his experience as a teacher, adviser, school inspector and poet to produce this useful book which provides teachers with an invaluable way of approaching poetry in the primary classroom. He shows teachers how to encourage children to enjoy reading and writing poetry. Phinn believes that poetry should be experienced before it is analysed and that 'close study at an early age' is not the way to encourage enjoyment.

    The bulk of the book is made up of chapters covering different kinds of poems and the limericks, clerihews, ballads, acrostic poems, alphabet poems and so on are accompanied by a mass of poems, many of them his own work. The poet is keen to follow through on the way he himself was taught which made 'the pleasure principle paramount'. The book is intended to enable teachers to provide a rich diet of poetry for children. At a time of mounting concern about the way poetry is approached, this helpful book provides an essential handbook for primary schools. No classroom should be without it.
  8. Poetry has had a hard time in schools in recent years, subjected to analysis, synthesis, interpretation and dissection and all in the services of literacy. With this book Gervase exuberantly, vividly and with great practicality reveals his philosophy of work and pleasure going hand in hand. He emphasises enthusiasm with joy, delight, wonder and fun permeating everything in developing both skills and knowledge. This book is a life-line: grasp it!

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