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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Poetry Lesson Plan/Idea (upper KS2/KS3) - EMBARRASSMENT

Here is poetry-based lesson plan that I have run with a degree of success for groups from Year 5 to Year 9. Like a lot of my other workshops it focuses on an emotion, in this case one which provides a way into some fun, light-hearted comic poetry, as well as leaving room for poignancy too - embarrassment. Again like some of my other workshops, there is also ample room for gamification; some of the exercises can be framed in mildly competitive terms, which I've found can be useful for some of the more reluctant KS3 classes.

Warm Up

Perhaps inspired by the opening minute and a half of this viral video by poet Shane Koyczan, or a personal anecdote from the teacher, students write down a list of their most embarrassing moments, aiming for at least three each. Encourage pupils to keep in mind things such as school, sports, family, holidays, etc.

Discussion and Competition

  • Share with the students my poem 'The Most Embarrassing Moment Ever' (shown at the bottom of this blog entry). 
  • In the poem I use two SIMILES to describe how I felt. Test the students' memory of these similes, and perhaps have a brief discussion about whether they are any good.
  • Students then pick one of their own embarrassing moments from their list, and write a simile to describe an aspect of the situation. They key here is to avoid cliche (anything to do with the ground swallowing something up is banned!). In order to spark the imagination, these examples can be shared and discussed:
           - "I felt like I'd been slapped in the face with a damp, rolled up newspaper"
           - "the trees looked like giant fingers, pointing and laughing at me"
           - "I felt like my skin was glass, and everyone could see my hearth thumping"
  • You can now have a COMPETITION, in which the most interesting/imaginative simile is rewarded with a prize!
Poem Writing

Students now write a poem about their own most embarrassing moments, which has to include the simile they have generated. As with my poem, try to encourage students to think of a powerful ending. Here are some potential sentence-starters that less confident students may find helpful:

            - "The most embarrassing moment ever was when..."
            - "I felt like..."
            - "Everyone said..."
            - "I decided that..."


In order to encourage students to share their poems with the class, it might be helpful to contrive a second competition, in which a prize is awarded either for the most embarrassing moment, or the greatest display of honesty, or the best poem, or whatever else you can think of!

I think that this workshop provides a nice way into life-writing. Embarrassment can be funny to talk and think about, but students may also confront difficult feelings too. With this in mind, my poem 'The Most Embarrassing Moment Ever' is both funny (I hope) and a little bit sad:

The Most Embarrassing Moment Ever (published in My Grandpa's Beard)

the most embarrassing moment ever
was at the beach
I ran up to my mum
wrapped my arms around her legs
and cuddled her tight shouting
mummy! mummy!
but then I looked into the distance
and saw my mum
and my dad
and my sister
and they were pointing at me
and giggling
and the lady I’d been cuddling
starting laughing too and said
“I think you’ve got the wrong lady”
and I wanted the sea
to wash over me
like a little sandcastle
like a shallow rockpool
and I decided
that I’d never
cuddle anyone again

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