English: Year 5 Write Winter Poems

English: Year 5 Write Winter Poems

In the lead up to Christmas, my Year 5 class and I have been exploring Romantic poets of the 19th Century and the use of the Petrarchan sonnet form.

A little ridiculous perhaps, given that I am still having to remind some of them about the use of basic full stops and capital letters, but, by encouraging them to explore, discuss and investigate more challenging texts, I have been amazed by what they have been able to produce in their own creative responses.

It is in the given freedom for them to discuss, question and challenge - and not through any of my chalk-and-talk delivery of texts - that their understanding has developed.

As Arun Periera argued in his article 'Expect Sessions of Top Teachers to be Interactive, Loud, and Involved' from the Economic Times in 2013, teachers should be using the classroom for active learning and for managing, applying, and using knowledge.

By encouraging the children to take risks, to make mistakes, to draft and re-draft though discussion with peers, they have proven to me that they can rise to any challenge.

As Kurt Kahn, the founder of Outward Bound Trust, states, "We are all better than we know. If only we can be brought to realise this, we may never be prepared to settle for anything less."


Things to Try at Home:

1. If children ask for spelling help with a difficult word, do not give it to them but, instead, give them clues about the word, or the stem of the word, and encourage them to investigate how to construct the harder spelling.

2. Give the children 'A Word of the Week' - have them investigate its meaning and its form (noun, verb, adjective, adverb etc.) Encourage them to use it, correctly and in the right context, in their own writing.
The Year 5 Word of the Week List for this term already includes words like scintillating, miasma, fastidious and recalcitrant!

3. Encourage the children to share their work with their  
    peers. Organise 'Peer-Markers' who can read through the work of others and give critical feedback. Foster an atmosphere of sharing ideas.

Here are two of the creations that children have composed in response to studies of Robert Southey's 'Winter' sonnet:


Old Man Winter by Millie Trenamen

Old Man Winter creeps in the darkest hours
He has ever-lasting powers
His hair rimed with frost
He is forever roaming, forever lost
In the dark his eyes will glow.
Like flourishing flames from down below
His beard is made of shattered glass
Anyone who ventures will be denied to pass
Yet, when he strolls around the Christmas Tree.
He sees the children laughing with glee.
He is the king of the Winter Wonderland
Giving presents to every hand
With his rosy red cheeks that we see
He would always welcome me.


Old Man Winter by Josh Sudan

As Winter stomps on the morning grass
The blades of green turn to glass
The field of green is now a blanket of white
While he releases his next cruel bite;
His teeth are made of sharp, blue ice.
All who hear him pay the price,
Myriad snowdrops drip from his beard
All are scared of him, all are afeared.
Is this Old Man Winter's true state?
I see him by the fire, so late,
A jolly fellow with a hearty chuckle
With warm, red clothes and a shiny gold buckle
To smiling faces he hands out gifts,
Healing wrongs and calming rifts.


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