Pride and delight: motivating pupils through poetic writing about the First World War


By Gill Minikin, published 10th May 1999

This project emerged from team-teaching with history teachers in history lessons. Gill Minikin draws upon her expertise as an English teacher to help pupils become excited by the challenge of ‘squeezing language' into poems. History teachers often ask pupils to write poems but they do not necessarily draw upon all of the techniques available to teachers. English teachers, however, are skilled at helping pupils to think about language and to enjoy the results. Whilst many of the English department's curriculum objectives are slightly different from those of history teachers, many still coincide. At the very least, English objectives can contribute to history objectives by starting the process of pupil motivation in a different place. Many of the pupils in this project were of very low ability and some had statements for Special Educational Needs. Writing poetry may not seem the most obvious way in which to foster high levels of interest, concentration or seriousness in such pupils, but if you know what you are doing, pupils will write poems with relish. History teachers will want to debate whether such an extended activity should happen in the history or the English classroom, but wherever the activity takes place, history can build upon it and benefit.

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