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 Activities and approaches may become outdated but that doesn’t always mean they are fundamentally flawed.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.

THIS LOVE IS NOT FOR COWARDS – By Robert Andrew Powell

Daniel Brint Literature & Literary criticism 2 Comments


By Robert Andrew Powell

Before the publication of Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby’s autobiographical account of being a football supporter, “the beautiful game” was not really considered a subject for serious writing. Football books were either ghosted biographies of stars and managers, or celebrations of particular clubs. Since Hornby, a genre of books about football has emerged, often dealing with the individual experience of supporters and sometimes branching out to explore the social and cultural contexts surround ingthe world’s favourite game – My Father and other Working Class Football Heroes by Gary Imlach or Football Against the Enemy by Simon Kuper, for example.) Powell’s book is unusual as it is written by an American for whom football (or soccer) is not a religion given at birth, but a game played by and followed by foreigners – in his case, the peoples of drug scarred Jaurez in Mexico, where Powell has put down roots. In the USA, soccer is a minority sport and usually associated with girls, despite the numerous attempts over the years to export it to a national level. The fact Powell can stand at a distance from the sport is a definite advantage, giving his the detachment of an anthropologist. He follows the fortune – and mainly the misfortunes – of Los Indios, a team that inspires great loyalty but minimal joy. This book is about far more than soccer, however, it is an account of a community where murder is common, drug addiction the norm and law and order something that departed as the cartels moved in. Like supporting a losing team, survival depends on hope, determination, loyalty and belief, only unlike football, this really is a question of life and death


THERE’S A RIOT GOING ON – By Peter Doggett

Daniel Brint Literature & Literary criticism 1 Comment


By Peter Doggett

Non-fiction (2007)

Revolutionaries, rock stars, 60’s counter-culture, black power, Vietnam…If you are interested in any of the former, this book will prove to be gripping and informative. Doggett’s style is lively and entirely readable. By linking social issues to rock music he effectively provides a soundtrack for the narrative, but a soundtrack that looks in detail at the way musical traditions were adapted and shaped by the events they reflected, or sometimes inspired. The book is full of fascinating detail, carefully balanced to represent the various political and revolutionary movements of the 60’s and early 70’s.


DIRT MUSIC – By Tim Winton

Daniel Brint Literature & Literary criticism 0 Comments


By Tim Winton


When I began choosing books for a Book Club in Madrid I was worried that I might end up just selecting books I like. Several years on, that is probably the case, inasmuch as I never chose a book I dislike. What I try and do, however, is read books chosen more or less at random, as a way of broadening my own process of selection. One such choice, bought “sight unseen” was Tim Winton’s Dirt Music. It’s a book of immense lyricism, a sense of place so powerful you can smell the earth and brine, and a group of characters who, though disturbing and sometimes shocking, are entirely believable. After reading Dirt Music I ordered several other books by Winton. They were all good – interesting – but not one of them, in my opinion, comes close to the power of this novel. As for the plot, allow me to quote from the blurb: “Set in the wild landscape of Western Australia, this is a novel about the odds of breaking with the past, a love story about people stifled by grief and regret, whose dreams are lost, whose hope have dried up.” It is also about the moments of wordless music that rise from the dust and give us hope.