English: Classes Merge For Year 6 'Poetry Jam'
As teachers, we spend many hours planning, preparing and delivering lessons that strive to provide challenge and stimulate our students; this is, of course, in line with strategies, frameworks and expected levels and stages of learning.
There are however also times when we need to abandon the curriculum ever so slightly, and make room for the creative ownership of our students, enabling them to explore language, unlock its potential and risk getting it really wrong.
Recently, Mrs Jones’ Year 6 English class merged with my own and enjoyed just such an opportunity, with the two groups temporarily combined into one for the purposes of some imaginative poetry writing.
The children were set open-ended tasks and provided with a range of poems in varying styles; after reading selected works in small groups, the children were then encouraged to explore the differing approaches of the poets they had read and apply their styles in their own writing.
Every pupil seemed to relish the opportunity and attacked the poetry with energy and enthusiasm. Knowing that they could take the lead and claim ownership of the outcomes, the children delighted in playing with the sounds, rhythms and ambiguous meanings of words.
The outcome of the sessions has been wonderful: each and every child has been a successful poet of one type or another, with writing that has been accessible to all.
The process of asking their neighbour if a certain line is successful, if they can help them to think of a better rhyme or adjective, or if one friend can simply listen to the creation of another, has also signified a powerful collaborative experience.
All in all, Year 6 have enjoyed working together and have proudly shared their work. Could there be any greater purpose for writing?