For teachers

Here is a suggested class plan for teachers to use in class.
You can also download this Class Plan in PDF format here.

This is a poetry project for New Zealand’s National Poetry Day 2018, which this year is on the 24 of August. We will publish five words on 1 August and each person has to write a poem which includes the five words. There will be a prize for the Best Poem by Under-16s of the book Slice of Heaven by Des O'Leary courtesy of Mākaro Press. The winning poem will also be translated into Spanish and published on the Spanish Palabras Prestadas (Given words) website.

• Encourage investigation and creativity in relation to words and meaning.
• To make a poem inspired by five words.

Write any word on the board, for example ‘open’, and give students 4 minutes to write down short sentences using the word. E.g., ‘open your books at page 26’, ‘we went to an open-air concert’. Ask students to read out a sentence. Does everyone use the same definition of the word?
Now write another word on the board, for example ‘blue’, and make an Ideas Cloud around the word. What words go with blue? (sky, sea, the Blues, jeans…)

Next, divide the class into groups and give each group one of the five words from the competition. On a large sheet of paper they have to make an Ideas Cloud for the word in their group. They can include drawings, writing, or collage from magazines etc. Each group then presents their word to the rest of the class.

Choose two of the five words and ask how they can be connected together. Give students 2 minutes to write a sentence that includes both words. Ask them to read out their sentences. Do they fit together?

Students now work individually using the five words to write their poem. The theme of the poem is open and will depend on what the five words suggest for each person. If they need help they can use the Ideas Clouds and start by writing sentence ideas for single words or word pairs as in the previous exercises, developing the idea of the poem before being asked how the other words might be incorporated.

Tell the students they should think more about conveying the ideas the words suggest rather than trying to make the poem rhyme.

NOTE: If you want to use the five words from the promo video as an exercise before the official five words are published on 1st August the words are: From the first group: dark, two, treasure, soccer and biscuitchip; and from the second group: Tuesday, sky, alofa, mummy and zebra.

Students share their poems with the class and comment on each other’s work.

Discuss the following: What words would YOU choose to create a poem? Are there words more suitable for a poem? Is it easier to write with related words or with words that have no obvious connection? Which are more inspiring – five verbs, adjectives, nouns or a mixture of the three?

Read this poem by Elizabeth Milne, age 11, which was based on the five words chosen by the Australian poet Les Murray: walled, crane-swing, jaw, blubber and blurts. How did she use each of the words? What is the idea that connects the five words?

Estuary Playground

Playground walled by sand, sky
Swing on the crane-swing
Slip down the stork-slide
Spin on the heron-go-round
Mud blurts and blubbers
Reeds grapevine through silt
The tide goes in, out
A talkative jaw full of shark teeth
chases little fish in the estuary

Elizabeth Milne, age 11

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