Reading poems out loud for two or more voices

Daniel Brint Resources for teachers 2 Comments

Reading poems out loud for two or more voices

Reading poems out loud for two or more voices

So much educational practice is about fashion and buzzwords. Relatively little is about innovation. Most ‘new’ ideas are reworking of old ones. Adaptation is one the most useful skills to develop as a teacher. Activities and approaches may become outdated but that doesn’t always mean they are fundamentally flawed. The rush to do something new and take as a starting point the rejection of whatever came before is a foolish policy. Reading poetry out loud might seem to belong to the kind of rote learning quite rightly seen as passive and pointless, but when we read a text written with close attention to the choice of words and their relation through image or sound, much more than rote learning takes place. Deciding how to read involves decisions about meaning, nuance, emphasis, voice and volume. By making this a collaborative activity students go deeper into these questions than if they worked alone. If an element of performance is then added, we have the ingredients of a highly effective lesson. The following guidelines can be a adapted to different ages and levels.

  1. Choose a number of poems – one for each group of 2 – 4 students.
  1. Explain to students that they are going to perform the poem. Everyone should read and they should try and combine individual voices and voices in unison. Their reading should aim to make the poem interesting for listeners, to do this, talk about the importance of varying volume and emphasizing certain words or lines.
  1. The students work on their poems in groups before performing them for the whole class. You can have a class vote on the best one.

Example poem for four voices:

V1,V2,V3,V4, ALL – voices

Underlined word – stressed

P – pause

This is the Key of the Kingdom (All)

 This is the key of the kingdom. (All)
In that kingdom there is a city. V1
In that city there is a town. V2
In that town there is a street. V3
In that street there is a lane. V4
In that lane there is a yard. V1 and V2
In that yard there is a house. V3 and V4
In that house there is a room. V1
In that room there is a bed. V2
On that bed there is a basket. V3
In that basket there are some flowers. V4 P
(crescendo as the next part is read)

Flowers in a basket, V1 and V2
Basket on the bed, V3 and V4
Bed in the room, V1 and V2
Room in the house, V3 and V3
House in the yard, V1 and V2
Yard in the lane, V3 and V4
Lane in the street, V1
Street in the town, V2
Town in the city, V3
City in the kingdom. V4P
Of that kingdom this is the key. (All)



Worlds Apart

Daniel Brint Resources for teachers 3 Comments

Worlds Apart

Activities for a short animated film.

I have created a lot of lessons over the years using short animated films. Animation is engaging and visually stimulating and provides excellent materials for practicing a wide range of skills. The following lesson is one of my favourites.

Lessons Plans

This lesson focuses on narrating events –

  • Past tenses and narrative linkers
  • Combinations of simple past and past perfect for ordering events.
  • Use of the present continuous to describe the background to an action.
  • Linking, sequence words: after that/ then / later / many years later etc


Ecology, pollution, space, aliens, childhood, sadness, happiness.

Genre – students also think and learn about Science Fiction themes and conventions.

Worlds Apart is a short, animated film you can see here:

This is suitable for a B1/B2 class.

  1. Tell students they are going to hear the sounds that accompany the beginning of a short, animated film. Don’t tell them anything about it. They could close their eyes to concentrate on creating a mental picture. With the screen muted, play the opening. Stop after about a minute. Ask students to discuss their ideas in pairs. With the whole class, write suggestions on the board and ask students to justify their ideas (‘you can hear some kind of vehicle/there’s a lot of wind – I think it’s at night etc). Then watch the first minute and see how similar the film and the predictions are. Finally, write ‘science fiction’ on the board and ask students to discuss films they have seen or what kind of stories they expect to find in a science fiction film.
  1. Use a prepared handout of screenshots from the film. Choose about 8 moments from the film and mix them up on an A4 handout. Give these out and ask students to predict the story – ‘this picture looks like there’s a big problem with pollution, perhaps people are dying / perhaps the aliens here have attacked the earth,’ etc.
  2. Watch the whole film. As they watch, students note the order in which the screenshots appear. After watching, check the order. Give out/put these sentences on the board tell students to put them in order.
  • Aliens found the family house.
  • The child played with the teddy bear in the sunshine
  • We see a bulldozer
  • The boy sees shapes in the clouds
  • Someone gets a wonderful present.
  • There were reports on the television.
  • The aliens arrived back home.
  • The aliens analyse something they find.
  • The boy wanted to go back for the teddy.
  • The family lived in a house in the country

Check with the whole class. Using the pictures and sentences, ask students to retell the story to each other. Monitor and help with language.

  1. Follow up activities:

Develop the Science Fiction aspect by getting students to research SF stories, films, TV series etc and report back to the class.

Use the teddy bear in the story as a writing activity – the students write the story from the bear’s point of view.