Learning and Teaching Resources for Learning English through Poems and Songs

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Learning and Teaching Resources

for Learning English through Poems and Songs

The resources presented here are meant to be examples to show the types of activities/materials that can be designed and developed to help students to work on the various focuses of the module in the Suggested Schemes of Work for the Elective Part of the Three-year Senior Secondary English Language Curriculum (Secondary 4- 6) (2007) (hereafter referred to as “SoWs”). Teachers are encouraged to adapt, modify and develop their own resources or make use of other relevant materials to suit the needs and interests of their students.

Part 1: Module introduction

Lessons 1-2: Poem and song journal

The purpose of this journal activity is to encourage you to access poems and songs as an independent language learning activity. In parallel to what you will be doing in class for the module, collect five pieces of work (including both poems and songs) that you like and give your personal response to them.

1. Include the following in the journal for each of the five poems or songs:

The poem or the song lyrics

A description of the theme of the poem or song

Language that you have learned from it

(e.g. vocabulary, metaphors, similes, expressions)

Your personal response to the poem or song

(e.g. Do you like it? Why or why not? What does the poem or song mean to you?) 2. By the end of the module, you will need to select ONE of the five songs or poems and

give a presentation of it to your classmates.

Your presentation should include:

the poem/song lyrics and the writer/singer

a brief description of what the song/poem means to you

(e.g. this song helps me to feel better when I am lonely; the poem reminds me of my school friend who left Hong Kong last year; I listen to this song when I am working out because it gives me the strength to keep going).

the various aspects of what you have learned throughout the module

(you will need to determine what area you should focus on, e.g. the theme, rhyme scheme, use of language)

Consider using various means such as a poster or powerpoint slides to make your presentation interesting and effective. If you prefer, your presentation may also include your recitation/singing of the poem/song.


Part 2: Introduction to poems and songs

Lessons 3-8: Introducing poems and songs A. “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer

Activity 1

Read the poem “Trees” (available at http://highsorcery.com/poems/trees.html) by the American poet Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918). In groups, discuss and answer the questions that follow. Make use of the handout on Poem and Song Vocabulary (pp.6-7) to help you with any vocabulary items that you are unfamiliar with. Then share your views with your classmates.

1. How would you describe the theme of this poem?

2. Do you agree with the message the poet is trying to convey? Explain your views.

3. What does “hungry mouth” refer to?

4. What examples of personification can you find in the poem?

5. How many stanzas are there in the poem?

6. What is the rhyme scheme in this poem?

Activity 2

With the help of your teacher/classmates or your dictionary, check the pronunciation of any words you do not know. Practise reading aloud the poem with a partner.

Suggested answers:

Activity 1

1. God’s creations are more impressive than man’s.

2. Free response.

3. The root system of the tree.

4. Tree – has a mouth, looks at …, lifts arms …, wears … in her hair, has a bosom Earth – has breast

5. Six.

6. aa, bb, cc, dd, ee, ff.

B. “Dreams” by Langston Hughes Activity 1

Read the poem “Dreams” (available at http://www.poemhunter.com/best-poems/langston- hughes/dreams-2/) by Langston Hughes, an African American poet who lived from 1902 to 1967. In groups, discuss and answer the questions that follow. Make use of the Poetry and Song Vocabulary list (pp.6-7) to help you with any vocabulary items that you are unfamiliar with. Then share your views with your classmates.

1. What is the theme of this poem?

2. What feelings do “a broken-winged bird” and “a barren field frozen” bring to your mind?

3. In your own words, what do you think Hughes is saying about dreams? Do you agree with what he says? Why/Why not?

4. What is the rhyme scheme?

5. What figure of speech is most distinctive in this poem: metaphor, simile or personification? Provide examples to support your answer.


6. The use of parallel structure (or parallelism) is a major feature of the poem. How is it presented?

Activity 2

With the help of your teacher/classmates or your dictionary, check the pronunciation of any words you do not know. Practise reading aloud the poem with a partner.

Suggested answers:

Activity 1

1. Go after your dreams; don’t give up.

2.&3. Free response.

4. abcb; efgf.

5. Metaphor:

Life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.

Life is a barren field frozen with snow.

6. Each stanza is parallel in the following way:

i. Hold fast to dreams

ii. For if dreams die/For when dreams go iii. Metaphor

iv. Negative consequence

C. “My Favorite Things” from the musical The Sound of Music written by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rogers


Listen to the song and read the lyrics (available at

http://kids.niehs.nih.gov/lyrics/favorite.htm). In groups, discuss and answer the questions below.

1. Name five of the favourite things that the singer mentions in the song.

2. Are any of the things mentioned in the song your favourite as well? Make a list of your favourite things and share it with your group members.

3. What pictures/images come to your mind as you listen to the song/read the lyrics?

4. What kind of person do you think the singer is? Find evidence from the text to support your answer. Are you the same or similar type of person?

5. Identify in the song

the number of stanzas;

the number of lines in each stanza; and

the stanza that serves as the chorus.

6. Count the number of syllables in each line. Is there a (general) pattern?

7. Are there any patterns in the way language and/or structures have been used? What are they?

8. What rhyming patterns exist in each of the stanzas and chorus?

Suggested answers:

1. Any 5 mentioned in the song. Free response with reasonable elaboration 2.&3. Free response


4. She is the type that always looks at the positive side of life. When she is upset she thinks of the many wonderful things in life and they will cheer her up again. The song is also structured in a way that pictures the brighter side of things:

There are 3 stanzas of 4 lines which describe favourite things; there is 1 stanza of 5 lines of which three describe bad things.

5. 4 stanzas

4 lines in stanzas 1, 2 and 3; 5 lines in stanza 4

the 5-line stanza serves as the chorus 6. Stanzas 1, 2, 3

Line 1– 11 syllables Line 2– 11 syllables Line 3– 10 syllables Line 4– 10 syllables

Stanza 4

Line 1– 4 syllables Line 2– 4 syllables Line 3– 5 syllables Line 4– 11 syllables Line 5– 7 syllables

7. Stanzas 1, 2, 3 follow a similar pattern:

the first 3 lines list the favourite things

the 4th line is always “These are a few of my favourite things.”

8. Stanzas 1, 2, 3 a, a, b, b

the 4th line always ends with the word “things”

Stanza 4

a, b, c, b, c

the 2nd and 4th lines rhyme, they end in “stings” and “things”

the 3rd and 5th lines rhyme, they end in “sad” and “bad”

D. “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly Activity

Listen to the song and answer the questions below.

(The lyrics are available at http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/rkelly/ibelieveicanfly.html).

1. What is the song trying to say?

2. What does the singer associate himself/herself with? Give reasons to support your answer.

3. What emotion or insight does the song bring you?

4. Are there any patterns in the way language and/or structures have been used?

5. What sounds/words are significant in the song? How do they relate to the theme of the song?

Suggested answers:

1. Someone who was desparate in the past has now found hope for the future and is ready to fight for it.

2. A bird. I believe I can fly/Spread my wings and fly away/I believe I can soar.

3. Free responses with reasonable elaboration.

4. “if-clause”


“I believe I can fly”(repetition)

5. The long vowel sounds, e.g. [ai] in “fly”, “sky”; [i:] in “see”, “believe”, “meaning”. The sounds/words are repeated throughout the song and seem to suggest the singer’s high spirit and that she has hope in what she is prepared to do.


Poem and Song Vocabulary

Alliteration the repetition of a sound usually at the beginning of words (e.g. The little lilac lightly landed on the lily pad)

Ballad a short musical narrative poem

Chorus a part of a song which is repeated after each verse Connotation the image or the feelings that a word brings to mind

(compare with denotation)

Couplet a stanza made up of two rhyming lines Denotation the dictionary definition of a word

Free verse poetry that does not have a fixed (rhyme) pattern that affects the length of the line, the organisation of the stanza or the metre

Haiku a traditional three line poem that contains 17 syllables, usually the 1st and 3rd lines have 5 syllables and the 2nd line has 7 syllables

Imagery the sense and/or pictures that words bring to mind

Limerick a five line humorous poem with an ‘aabba’ rhyme scheme Line poetry is written most often in lines and not as sentences; as such

the first word of the line is capitalised regardless of whether it starts a new sentence or not

Lyric poem a short poem that expresses the poet’s personal feelings Lyrics the words of a song

Narrative poem a poem that tells a story

Metaphor a figure of speech that directly compares two unlike things (e.g. time is money)

Metre the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables “e.g. Shall I comPARE thee TO a SUMmer’s DAY?” and “GO and CATch a FALLing STAR”

(the unstressed (short) syllables are in black and the stressed (long) syllables are in blue).

Parallelism the repetition of a pattern, phrase, or structure within a poem or prose passage (e.g. “We’d live the life we choose,/We’d fight and never lose”) Personification a figure of speech that gives an animal, object or idea human


Rhyme the repetition of vowel sounds and all succeeding consonant sounds (e.g.

old/cold, eat/heat, cool/school) Rhyme scheme the pattern of rhyme within the poem

(e.g. a limerick has the rhyme scheme of ‘aabba’)

Simile a figure of speech that directly compares two things by using like or as (e.g. She is as pretty as a picture)

Stanza a group of lines making up a unit or section of a poem Theme the main idea of a poem or a piece of writing

Tone the general feeling or overall impression that a piece of writing generates

Verse a stanza


Teachers’ notes

*Depending on the needs and abilities of the students, teachers might like to adapt the list and select relevant terms for discussion. Teachers might also like to refer to the Glossary of The Learning and Teaching of Poetry (Senior Secondary): A Resource Package (Education and Manpower Bureau, 2005) for more details about some of the poem and song vocabulary items.


Part 3: Reading and writing poems

Lessons 9-10: Understanding and writing acrostic A. Understanding acrostic

Acrostic is a form of short poem in which the first letter of each line spells a word, which is usually used as the title of the poem.

The first letter of each line is in capital form. The length of each line can vary from one word to a phrase.

It does not have to rhyme.

It can be about any subject or theme. One simple way to write an acrostic is to first put down the letters that spell the subject or theme. Then think of a word, phrase or sentence that starts with the letter of each line to describe the subject or theme.


Take a look at the acrostics below. What are their subjects/themes? How do they reflect the typical characteristics mentioned above?

Teacher Talented Enthusiastic Able

Caring Humorous Energetic Reasonable

What to write

Writing poems is not my strength Hanging around to think of something At times when ideas strike me,

Take up a pen and write down something.

To start with simple and funny things with Ongoing practising and revising

Wonder what to say and what to write Reflecting upon the past

Inspiring for whatever it can be There is indeed a lot to write

Enjoyable and easy poem writing can really be.


B. Writing acrostic Activity 1

1. Write an acrostic using your name as the title.

2. Try to use some adjectives, phrases or sentences to describe yourself.

3. Share the acrostic with your partner to see how far he/she agrees with the descriptions you made.

4. You can also write an acrostic for your partner using his/her name as the title.

5. Make use of a dictionary or thesaurus if necessary. The following acrostics are given as examples.

Examples Calm Handsome Reliable Idealistic Shy

Always attentive, Never cheats and Never fails,

A model student after all.

Activity 2

1. Working in groups of 3 to 4, brainstorm possible topics to write about. They can be anything you come across in your daily lives, ranging from your personal interest like favourite movie stars or hobbies to political issues like terrorism. Try to be as creative as you can.

2. Choose a topic from the list your group has compiled and write an acrostic of your own.

3. Share your work with your group members, get their feedback and make any addition, deletion or rearrangement if necessary.

For example:

If you are going to write an acrostic about the famous footballer, David Beckham, you may consider the following to help you to write the poem:

his appearance/personality/family background

what he did before he became popular

the incidents which happened to him

reasons for his popularity

your personal opinions about him

You may then come up with a simple acrostic like example 1, or a more sophisticated one like example 2 below:

Example 1 Beckham Brilliant England Captain Kick Handsome Advertisement Midfield

Example 2 Beckham

Back and forth he runs Every move he makes Causes his fans to jump

Kicking without scoring does no harm Having new hairstyles is his real charm A footballer or a sports star

Makes no difference to him so far


Teachers’ notes Activity 1

*For a variation on this part, teachers might ask students to use their own nicknames, family names or given names to write their acrostics. For acrostics using nicknames, teachers might read them aloud and ask the class to guess who the students are.

*Teachers might also like to ask students to stick their own photos to pieces of colour paper on which they have put the acrostics for board display.

Activity 2

*For a variation on this part, teachers might like to have the whole class work on the same theme and let students see the wide variety of ideas that can be generated from it and share their different views.

*For the less able students, teachers might give them a list of suggested topics that they are familiar with or that can easily evoke feelings, such as the following:


Favourite food/movie stars/singers



Book/song/movie titles

City/country names

Physical objects (e.g. stationery, furniture, clothes…)

Academic subjects (English, Mathematics, Economics…)


Lessons 11-12: Understanding and writing shape poems A. Understanding shape poems

Shape poems are poems in which words or lines are arranged in a way that takes on the shape of the subject of the poem to form a visual impact that supports the theme.

There is not any particular rhyme scheme to follow.

Shape poems require links between the visual images and the verbal thinking to express feelings or ideas. They normally relate what one sees to the feeling or thoughts that are expressed about an object, image or theme.

Activity 1

Read the poem “My Body” (available at

http://www.wetheteachers.com/files/5091156616491.doc) by Andrea Forbing-Maglione and answer the questions that follow. Feel free to express your ideas about the subject or topic and share them with your partner.

1. What does the speaker say about his/her body?

2. How does the shape of the poem help you to understand its theme?

3. If you are asked to rewrite the poem, what shape will it take? How does it relate to your theme?

Activity 2

Read the poem “Reflections in a Pond” (see Magee, Wes. (1992). Scholastic Collections:

Poetry. London: Scholastic.) and answer the following questions. Feel free to express your ideas about the subject or topic and share them with your partner.

1. What is the poem about?

2. What does “annual crop of goldfish” mean?

3. What images does the shape of the poem bring to your mind? How do they help you to understand the poem?

B. Writing shape poems Form groups of 3 to 4.

1. Share your feelings about a number of objects, images or subjects suggested by your teacher. You may also discuss other items that your group is interested in.

2. Brainstorm a list of related vocabulary and note the key points made in your discussion.

3. Select one of the objects/images/subjects that you want to work on.

4. Write a shape poem of your own based on the selected object/image/subject.

You can first outline the shape of the poem

Then fill in words and lines to describe the item

Think of a title for your poem

5. Share your draft with your group members and make revisions if necessary.


Lessons 13-14: Understanding and writing poems using different grammatical patterns Activity 1

Read the following poems. Find out their themes and identify the grammatical patterns used.

Think of a title for each of the poems.

Poem 1 Come to me.

Have some tea.

Sit with ease.

Know more about me.

Suggested title: ________________________________

Poem 2 Gracefully, sweetly, loudly, the bird is singing.

Enjoyably, relaxingly, quietly, the man is watching.

Suggested title: _______________________________

Poem 3 It is easy to forget what I have learnt But it is hard to tell the teacher that.

My parents told me to prepare for the test But my friends asked me to take a rest.

What students want is to have fun

But what teachers focus on is to fail none.

What a world of contrast we are living in!

What a state of conflict we are having from within!

Suggested title: ________________________________

Poem 4 Mother Teresa

Kind, humble, generous, capable A child of God

The best friend of the poor and the sick

Who spent her life serving the needy in Calcutta Who founded the Missionaries of Charity The mother of the dying and the suffering A winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Loving, persistent, brave, devoted Mother Teresa

Suggested title: ________________________________


Activity 2

Form groups of 3 to 4.

1. Recall as many as possible the grammatical patterns you have learnt.

2. Try to make use of one or more of the grammatical patterns to write a poem of your own on a theme, subject or figure of your choice.

(You can focus on one particular grammatical pattern like reported speech, relative clause, inversion, etc. or include a mixture of them in your poem.)

3. Consider the use of a rhyme scheme or any poetic features you have learnt.

4. Create a title for your poem.

5. Share your draft with your group members. Give comments to one another and make revisions if necessary.

Teachers’ notes

* For the less able students, it is not necessary for them to specify the grammatical terms as long as they are aware of the grammatical structures used. Teachers might also consider asking them to start by simply focussing on vocabulary, parts of speech or any phrases such as ‘I am’, ‘He/She likes’, ‘It is’, etc.

Example: I am tall I am small

I am active I am creative

* For the more able students, teachers might require them to give more attention to the choice of vocabulary or the use of poetic features that create particular moods or feelings for their poems. For example, teachers can ask the students to rewrite Poem 2 (Activity 1) to give it a different tone, like the following:

Gracefully, sweetly, loudly, the bird is singing.

Attentively, quietly, sadly, the man is watching through the bars.

Suggested answers:

Activity 1 Poem 1

Theme: To invite someone to know more about the writer Pattern: Starting a sentence with a verb (imperative) Poem 2

Theme: To describe a relaxing/enjoyable moment

Pattern: Subject+verb+adverb (simple sentence pattern in present continuous tense) Poem 3

Theme: Conflict seems unavoidable in our lives

Patterns: ‘It is’+adjective+to-infinitive; reported speech; ‘what’+subject+verb+verb to be+to-infinitive (cleft sentence); exclamation with ‘what’+noun group

Poem 4

Theme: To tell the story of Mother Teresa


Lessons 15-17: Reading and writing limericks A. Understanding what limericks are

Limericks are short humorous poems. One could say that they are a written cartoon or caricature of a person. It is not certain how limericks originated, but they take their name from Limerick, Ireland. In 1845 Edward Lear published a book called A Book of Nonsense and Nonsense Songs that includes many well-known limericks.

Limericks have the following characteristics:

 follow a predictable 5 line formula

 1st line – 9 syllables

 2nd line – 9 syllables

 3rd line – 6 syllables

 4th line – 6 syllables

 5th line – 9 syllables

 exact number of syllables per line can vary slightly, 3rd and 4th lines often shorter

 1st line often begins “There once was a (person) from (a place)”

 2nd line often starts with “who (adverb) verb…”

 3rd line often contains the word “when” in order to set up a situation/problem.

 the simple past is often used

 have a rhyming scheme of AABBA

 word order is sometimes unusual in order for the line to end with the rhyming word

A limerick’s theme is usually about funny, or odd, people doing humorous, silly, or extreme things. Limericks are not about feelings, emotions, or moods. They are usually nonsense and often focus only on rhyme and rhythm.


Take a look at the two limericks below taken from Edward Lear’s book.

1. Do they reflect the typical characteristics mentioned above?

2. What other features/similarities do you notice in the two limericks?

7. What do you notice about capitalisation and punctuation conventions?

There was a young lady of Wilts, Who walked up to Scotland on stilts;

When they said it was shocking To show up in your stocking,

She answered “then what about kilts.”

There was an Old man of the Coast Who placidly sat on a post;

But when it was cold, He relinquished his hold,

And called for some hot buttered toast.

Suggested answers:

2. Features/similarities:

 The 1st line introduces the person and where they come from.

 The 2nd line describes what they are doing or what they are known for.

 The 3rd line and sometimes the 4th present a problem (e.g. people complaining, the weather changing).

 The 5th line and sometimes the 4th present a solution or what the reaction is to the problem.


B. Reading and reciting limericks Activity

You can find many limericks at the following site:


1. Read some of the limericks and select one you would like to learn.

2. Look up the meaning and pronunciation of any words you do not know.

3. Practise reciting it with a partner; try to memorise it if you can.

4. As you recite it, pay attention to the syllables, which are like beats, in each line. You should be able to feel the rhythm of the lines as you read it. Ask your partner for feedback on how it sounds.

5. Recite your limerick for your class.

C. Writing a limerick Activity 1

With a partner, write a limerick using the first lines that are written out for you below. When you have finished, share your limericks with the class.

1. There once was a boy from Kowloon _______________________________




(You may consider using these words which rhyme with Kowloon:

moon, soon, goon, loon, June, tune, buffoon, croon, baboon, cartoon) 2. There once was a young girl from Wanchai





(You may consider using these words which rhyme with Wanchai:

buy, dye, guy, hi, high, sigh, nigh, shy, my, why, fly, pie, lie, tie) Examples:

There once was a boy from Kowloon, Who always acted like a buffoon;

When he visited the zoo, They knew what to do,

He now lives with his friend the baboon.

There once was a boy from Kowloon, Who refused to get up till noon;

When his mother got mad, And yelled “you’re so bad,”

He frowned and blew a balloon.


There once was a young girl from Wanchai, Who claimed that she was extremely shy;

But when a cute boy walked in, His heart she did win,

For she knew that he was the right guy.

Activity 2

Try to write some more limericks.


Lessons 18-21: Reading and writing haikus A. Understanding haiku

Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry that became very popular with many Western poets in the 20th century who believed it was a very simple yet powerful way of presenting and connoting images, moods and feelings.

Like limericks, haiku has a very distinctive form. Below are some characteristics of haiku:

 Each poem is three lines and has 17 syllables.

 The 17 syllables are usually divided among the three lines in the following way:

1st line – 5 syllables 2nd line – 7 syllables 3rd line – 5 syllables

The number of syllables per line can vary in Haiku written in English, but there are almost always 17 syllables, spread over three lines.

 The images conveyed in the three lines should not create a narrative. They should be occurring simultaneously, at the very same moment. This simultaneous quality is what creates haiku’s powerful ability to create a feeling, image or mood.

For example, the following is not a good haiku because the actions and thoughts are occurring one after another, not simultaneously.

Green light bus comes Then the rain falls slowly Later I think about a seat.

The haiku could be rewritten to show these actions and thought happening at the same time.

Green light bus comes Rain gently falls on my head Will I get a seat?

 Haiku omits any unnecessary words.

For example:

Original sentence description

The blackbird sings in the tree (7 syllables). I wade in the cool spring water (8 syllables). I see gold carp swimming close by (8 syllables).

Haiku rewrite

Blackbird sings in tree (5);

Wading in cool spring water (7);

Gold carp swim close by (5).

Traditionally, haiku has had a seasonal and nature theme. Many traditional haikus are about the spring, summer, autumn or winter. However, haiku can be about anything the


Haiku often brings to mind a scent, a sound, a flavor, an image, or a sensation (a touch).

It does this by setting a scene or capturing a feeling or mood. It does not overtly tell the reader what the subject of the poem is, as it should be evident by what the writer has written. This is why haiku usually is not titled.

For example, in the following haiku, the writer does not directly tell the reader what she is writing about. Instead, the images that are brought to mind create the meaning; they are connoted, not denoted.

Slowly rubbing eyes

Rising gently from slumber Remembering dreams.

What do you think the writer is writing about?

(Suggested answer: about waking up)

B. Reading haikus Activity 1

Read the following haikus* written by the traditional haiku master Basho (1644-1694), who was a Zen Buddhist monk. In your own words, write a sentence about what you think the subject matter of each haiku is.

1. An old pond!

A frog jumps in - The sound of water.

Subject matter: ___________________________________

2. The first soft snow!

Enough to bend the leaves Of the jonquil low.

Subject matter: ___________________________________

3. In the cicada's cry No sign can foretell How soon it must die.

Subject matter: ___________________________________

4. No one travels Along this way but I, This autumn evening.

Subject matter: ___________________________________

* It should be noted that the translated works here do not always fall into the pattern of 5, 7, 5 syllables in 3 lines. While students should, as far as possible, be encouraged to adhere to the traditional sound pattern when they write their own haikus in Part C, teachers might consider allowing them some flexibility in handling the poetic form. That is, occasional deviation from the prescribed sound pattern might be acceptable so long as the writer’s feelings and emotions are effectively evoked.


5. Clouds appear

and bring to men a chance to rest from looking at the moon.

Subject matter: ___________________________________

6. Won't you come and see loneliness? Just one leaf from the kiri tree.

Subject matter: ___________________________________

7. Temple bells die out.

The fragrant blossoms remain.

A perfect evening!

Subject matter: ___________________________________

Activity 2

Read the haiku by the American poet Richard Wright (1908-1960) at http://www.iyume.com/haiku/haikuex.html.

1. What kind of subject matter does Wright write about?

2. What do you think of when you read the haiku? What comes to your mind?

Activity 3

Check out this site for more examples of modern haiku:


Suggested answers:

Activity 1

1. A frog splashes into a pond.

2. The weight of the snow bends a reed low to the ground.

3. The cicada’s (cricket’s) chirp doesn’t let you know how short its life is.

4. He is alone on a road on an autumn evening.

5. When the clouds cover the moon, it can’t be viewed.

6. This haiku creates a metaphor for loneliness.

7. At the end of a day, the memory of temple bells and the smell of flowers leads up to a perfect evening.

Activity 2

1 A very everyday subject of umbrellas.

2. The smell of umbrellas.


C. Writing haikus and developing a photo display Activity

1. Write 2-5 haikus. Focus on any image, feeling, mood you want to express. Here are some suggestions:

the feeling you get when biting into your favourite food

a childhood memory

a time of day

the feeling you have as you walk into an examination hall

your favourite season

your feelings as you look out the window on a rainy day/a sunny day/a gloomy, overcast day

the feeling you have when you think of a loved one

what goes through your mind when you are angry

what goes through your mind as you prepare to blow out the candles of your birthday cake

2. Before you start writing, brainstorm words that might help you as you write. Use a table to keep track of your ideas; it will make writing your haikus easier.

An example:

subject sounds tastes feelings smells images moods emotions actions

Winter Wind howling

Leaves rustling

Snow on my tongue Hot pot Hot cocoa

Freezing Damp

Hot pot People bundled up

Hand in pocket

Grand- mother’s house

Mahjong tiles Sweet dumplings

Comfortable Medicine Incense

Old ladies hunched over mahjong table

Grandmother chopping vegtables

Content Hugging my


Feeding pigeons on the roof

Standing in line

Complaining Sugar

Carbonated liquid Dry mouth

Frustrated People around me

Tapping my feet

Chewing gum

Looking at my watch Sighing

Annoyance Frustration Drinking a Coca Cola

Failing a test

“You have failed”

Acid in my throat Dry mouth

Scared Hiding from

my parents

Depressed Dis- appointment


Early morning

Morning radio show

Soft, savory dough inside my mouth

Anticipation Eggs Coffee Rain

People queuing for light bus

Putting my backpack on

Trying to find change for the bus


3. Read over the haikus you have written and use the following criteria to evaluate your poems. Make changes to your work if necessary.

Are there 3 lines?

Are there approximately 17 syllables?

Are the syllables approximately divided in a 5/7/5 split?

Are all the images, actions, emotions and feelings happening at the same time?

Do the words capture what you want to convey?

Are there any unnecessary words you should omit?

4. Then exchange your poems with a classmate and evaluate each other’s work using these criteria.

5. Develop a photo display that complements one or a group of your haikus.

You may take the photos or use photos you have previously taken.

For example, to complement the following haiku, you could take a picture of different people, or one person, waiting in the rain at the bus stop as it is raining.

You could take several shots of one person from different angles.

Green light bus comes Rain gently falls on my head Will I get a seat?


Lessons 22-27: Reading and writing narrative poems/ballads

Understanding narrative poems/ballads

A narrative poem is a poem that tells a story. Narrative poems can come in many forms and styles. They can be long or short, simple or complex, as long as they tell stories.

Ballads are a kind of narrative poem. They often come in the form of a song which tells a story in simple language. The story is often told through dialogue and action, and mostly in third person narrative.

A. “Ballad of Birmingham” (On the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963) by Dudley Randall

(See http://www.ctadams.com/dudleyrandall4.html) Activity 1

1. Before you read the poem, search for some background information about the bombing in Birmingham in Alabama in 1963.

2. In groups, share the information you have got.

3. Read the poem.

4. As a group retell orally or produce a written outline of the story told in the poem.

Go through each of the stanzas and each member takes it in turn to retell the main idea in your own words or summarise the meaning of the stanza into a sentence.

5. Identify the rhyme scheme in the poem and make note of any features that are used in the poem.

Activity 2

1. Practise reading the poem together. Then divide up the stanzas among group members for a group recitation or perfomance. Make use of any props that may be necessary for your performance.

2. Practise for your group recitation or performance. Make use of the Performance Feedback Form (p.23) to help you to focus on what to pay attention to, and to get feedback from group mates.

3. Recite or perform the poem to the class, get feedback from classmates and teacher.

Suggested answers:


4. Stanza Main idea

1 the child wants to go to the Freedom March 2 the mother disagrees because it is dangerous

3 the child insists since the march means so much to the country 4 The mother suggests that her child go to church instead

5 the mother dresses up her daughter and gets her ready for church going 6 the mother thinks it is safe to be in the church but she is wrong

7 the church is bombed and the mother searches for her daughter

8 the mother finds her daughter’s shoes in the debris but cannot find the child


Performance Feedback Form

Give feedback on your own and/or your classmates’ performance by circling the appropriate number.


improvement Satisfactory Good


Key words are clearly audible

Words are accurately pronounced

1 1 1

2 2 2

3 3 3 Eye contact with the audience

There is enough eye contact 1 2 3

Feeling and expression

The right intonation is used

Words are stressed appropriately

Pauses are used to enhance the meaning and feeling of the poem

Body movements are used to enhance the meaning and feeling of the poem

The rate (speed) of delivery creates and maintains interest

The voice is used to create a mood

Props are used to add feeling and expression to the delivery

1 1 1 1 1 1 1

2 2 2 2 2 2 2

3 3 3 3 3 3 3 Other Comments:

After you have finished performing, select the groups/members that did the

 Most expressive performance

 Funniest performance

 Best overall performance

Teachers’ notes

*Teachers are encouraged to adapt this form by making additions or deletions where appropriate, to suit students’ needs and level.


B. “Dear Mr Examiner” by Gareth Owen

(See Patten, Brian (Ed.) (1991). Puffin Book of Modern Children’s Verse. London:

Puffin Books.) Activity 1

Read the poem and answer the following questions.

1. Who and where is the “I” in the poem?

2. What does the poem tell you about “I”?

3. Retell orally what “I” is doing in each stanza.

4. What is the tone of the poem? Give reasons to support your answer.

5. Identify the rhyme scheme in the poem and make note of any features that are used in the poem.

Activity 2

1. Think of an incident or an experience that you would like to write a poem on. Consider the following before you write the poem:

When and where did it happen? Who were involved?

Was it a happy/sad/exciting/horrifying story?

Put down as many words as possible that would help you to present your story.

How would you like to start telling your story, and how would it develop?

How many stanzas would you need to write about it?

Write the main idea of each stanza in one sentence.

Decide on the number of lines for each stanza.

Express the idea of each stanza in several lines. Consider the use of a rhyme scheme and other features that would make your poem interesting and effective.

2. When you have finished, exchange your draft with a classmate’s and comment on each other’s work. Consider the following questions when giving feedback:

Do you find the poem interesting?

Which aspects of the poem do you like most (e.g. the story in the poem, the characters, the use of details, the use of language, the sound pattern)?

How does the writer make these aspects interesting?

Which aspects of the poem need improvement? Why?

Suggest some ways to improve the poem.

3. Revise your draft if necessary. Then share your poem with the class.


Part 4: Appreciating songs and writing song lyrics

Lessons 28-33: Listening to songs and rewriting song lyrics A. Listening to songs

Activity 1

Listen to the song “Imagine “ by John Lennon. (The lyrics can be accessed at http://www.lyrics007.com/John%20Lennon%20Lyrics/Imagine%20Lyrics.html.) In groups, discuss and answer the questions below.

1. What do you think the song is about?

2. What emotion or insight does the song bring you?

3. What lines/phrases seem most striking to you? Why?

4. Identify how many stanzas there are; how many lines are in each stanza; and which stanza serves as the chorus.

5. Count the number of syllables in each line. Is there a pattern? (The pattern may not be exact, but rather a general pattern)

6. Are there any patterns in the way language and/or structures have been used? What are they?

7. What rhyme scheme is there in each of the stanzas and the chorus?

8. Try to rewrite the lyrics of the song by changing some of the key words. Keep the same approximate number of syllables in each line and keep the same rhyme scheme.


Suggested answers:

Activity 1

1. The writer’s ideal world.

2-3. Free responses with reasonable elaboration.

4. There are 3 stanzas with 6 lines each and one chorus with 4 lines.

5. In stanzas1, 2 and 3, 1st lines have 7 syllables 2nd lines have 6 syllables 3rd lines have 5-7 syllables 4th lines have 5-6 syllables 5th lines have 7 syllables 6th lines have 5 syllables

6. 1st line - Imagine there’s no/Imagine no

2nd line in stanzas 2 and 3 – if you try/if you can 3rd line - no/nothing/no

5th line - Imagine all the people 6th line - verb+ing

7. Stanzas 1,2 and 3 - a,b,c,b,d,e Chorus - none

8. A possible rewrite:

Imagine there’s no school It’s easy if you try No tests to take No books to buy Imagine all the students Living without stress Imagine there’s no exams It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to revise for No final marks too Imagine all the students Living life in peace Imagine no homework I wonder if you can No need for late nights No need to cram

Imagine all our classmates Enjoying all the world


Activity 2

1. Read the text about a boy called Luka (which your teacher will provide). Make a guess of what the missing words may be. Discuss your answers with a partner and decide whose answers would be more appropriate if they are different.

2. Listen to the song “Luka” by Suzanne Vega (please refer to The Learning and Teaching of Poetry (Senior Secondary: A Resource Package (EMB, 2005)) and check if you have filled out the blanks correctly. Listen to the song again and make corrections if necessary.

3. In groups of 4, discuss and answer the following questions. Then share your views with your classmates.

a. Who is Luka?

b. Where is Luka?

c. Who does the “you” in the song refer to?

d. Who does the “they” refer to?

e. When do the “trouble” and “fight” happen?

f. What story does the song tell?

g. Is the song based on a conversation or on private thoughts? Give reasons for your answer.

h. What is the tone of the song? Find examples from the text to support your view.

i. Identify repetitions and rhymes. How are they used to echo the theme in the song?

Teachers’ notes

*For this activity, teachers would need to provide a worksheet with some of the words or lines of the lyrics of Luka blanked out.


Activity 3

Listen to the song “Those were the Days” by Mary Hopkins, and read the lyrics (in The Learning and Teaching of Poetry (Senior Secondary: A Resource Package (EMB, 2005)).

In groups, discuss and answer the following questions:

1. The lyrics tells a story. What is the story about?

2. In stanza 3, the writer asks a question: “Was that lonely woman really me?” Why does the writer say so?

3. What is the tone of this song? Give examples from the text to support your view.

4. Find an example of alliteration in the text.

5. Find two examples of the same or similar sentence structures used in the text.

6. How is the chorus used to echo the theme in this song?

Suggested answers:

Activity 2

3. a. A boy in the neighbourhood, who suffers from child abuse b. He is home (upstairs, on the second floor)

c. Luka’s neighbours, or the audience in general d. Possibly Luka’s parents

e. Late at night

f. It tells the story of Luka, who suffers from child abuse.

g. The “you” whom Luka addresses does not refer to any specific person, but the people living downstairs or in the neighbourhood in general. The song represents Luka’s attempt at expressing his thoughts and feelings through an imagined dialogue.

h. The tone of the song is sad and pitiful. Luka’s fear, anxiety and suffering are poignantly expressed through the trouble that confronts him (line 3) and his desperate effort at hiding the cause of his trouble, as manifest in the repetition of his pleas (“Just don’t ask me what it was”, “You just don’t argue anymore”, “Just don’t ask me how I am”).

i. Examples of repeated expressions:

“Some kind of” (lines 3 and 21),

“I try not to” (lines 7 and 8),

“Just don’t ask me what it was”(lines 4-6, 22-24),

“You just don’t argue anymore”(lines 10-12, 27-29),

“Just don’t ask me how I am”(lines 16-18) Examples of rhymes:

- “floor” “before” (lines 1 and 2, lines 19 and 20) - “night”, “fight” (line 3, line 21)

- “loud”, “proud” (lines 7 and 8) - “cry”, “why” (lines 9, 25 and 26)

The use of repetitions and rhymes serves to intensify the fear and agony Luka undergoes and heightens the urgency and seriousness of his situation, thereby reinforcing the theme of child abuse.


Suggested answers:

Activity 3

1. The story is about the writer’s recollection of the happy time and the wonderful dreams she shared with her lover/friend when she was young, which have now become things of the past.

2. She asks the question because she is woeful about getting old or because of her disillusionment over the loss of love/friendship.

3. The tone is one of wistful nostalgia. The happy time which the writer shared with her lover/friend in the past is represented through words or images associated with joy, hope, brightness and vitality, most of which occur in the chorus (e.g. “laughed away the hours”, “[the days]’d never end”, “sing and dance”, “live the life we choose”, ‘fight and never lose”, “sure to have our way”, “starry notions”). The writer’s yearning to relive those days is keenly portrayed through the repetition of the chorus and the notion in the final stanza that although she has become older, her “dreams are still the same”.

4. Lots of examples can be found. See the following examples in the opening lines and chorus:

Once upon a time there was a tavern Where we used to raise a glass or two.


Those were the days, my friend, We thought they’d never end,

We’d sing and dance forever and a day…


5. Examples of the same or similar sentence structures used in the text:

(1) We’d live the life we choose We’d fight and never lose

(2) …for we were young and sure to have our way

…for in our hearts the dreams are still the same

6. The chorus celebrates the gratifying relationship which the writer and her lover/friend enjoyed in the past. She cherishes the time they spent with each other and the vision they shared in striving for the same ideal. As the relationship has gone amiss, the repetition of the chorus throughout the song adds to the poignancy with which the theme of lost love/friendship is conveyed.


B. Rewriting song lyrics Activity

Consider the following steps and rewrite the lyrics of a song:

Select a song you like. You can go to http://www.tonsoflyrics.com.

Learn the lyrics.

Identify what the song is trying to say.

Identify the song’s rhyme scheme.

Count the number of syllables in each line.

Make note where words, phrases, or lines are repeated throughout the lyrics creating a pattern.

Decide what you would want to say in your own song. Make use of the information from the original lyrics and rewrite them.


Lessons 34-36: Exploring how song commercials create images and meanings A. Understanding how song lyrics create images and meanings


In groups, select 4-5 commercials that use songs to sell an image or a product, and do the following:

1. Identify the song and the song title. Find out who sings it.

2. Learn the lyrics. (You may consult http://www.tonsoflyrics.com for the lyrics of most songs.)

3. What product or image is the song helping to sell?

4. Do you think it does a good job of selling the product or image? Why or why not?

5. How do the lyrics in the song create images and meanings that help sell the product? Fill in the table below.

Lyrics The images/meanings they create

6. Share your ideas with your class. How were your ideas similar to and/or different from other groups?


B. Creating advertising campaigns Activity

1. Working as a group, take on the role of a commercial advertising team and develop advertising campaigns for 2-3 of the following products (you may create your own products if you prefer):

software that can be used to create photographs

mobile phone or mobile phone service

a skin care product

a soft drink

a holiday resort

a clothing line for young, hip people

a public information commercial encouraging people to adopt abandoned pets

a public information campaign encouraging people to treat senior respectfully 2. Select songs which have lyrics that will help sell these products, and be ready to explain

to your bosses why you select them.

3. Fill in the table.

Product Song selected Reason for the selection

4. As a group, brainstorm some words and expressions that might be useful in your presentation.


As you know we want to sell …

We believe that … sung by … would be a great choice … Why do we feel this way?

… will explain why we want to use …

… creates an image of…

… makes people want to …

It is hip/modern/soulful/energetic to … It brings to mind …

We believe/feel/think/know this song captures what needs to be expressed.

5. Practise, then present or sell your choices and the reasons for your choices to the rest of the class, who will act as your bosses during your presentation. As you present your choices and reasons for them, you should refer to the words in the lyrics. Divide up the presentation so that everyone in the group takes part in it.


6. Get feedback on your group’s presentation on some or all of the following aspects.



Use of lyrics to back up choices

Use of vocabulary and expressions

Organisation of presentation



Eye contact


Lessons 37-42: Enjoying and listening to a musical


Many famous stories have been made into musicals. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw became My Fair Lady; the legend of King Arthur and the round table became the musical play Camelot; the famous story of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo became a Broadway play;

and the classic story of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens became the musical Oliver!.

Oliver! was first produced on Broadway in New York and the West End in London. It became a movie hit in 1968 when it won the Academy Award for the Best Picture of the Year.

The lyrics for Oliver! can be found at http://sufface.net/links/oliver-themusical.shtml Read the synopsis below:

Oliver! is the story of Oliver Twist who is orphaned at a very young age in London during a period of time known as the Industrial Revolution. He is sent to live in a bleak orphanage run by the cruel Mr. Bumble and his wife. One day he gets in trouble and is taken out onto the street where he is sold to an undertaker who treats him badly. Oliver eventually comes to live with Fagan the head of a crime gang that makes money by pick-pocketing wealthy Londoners. While he is with Fagan’s gang, Oliver makes friends with the Artful Dodger, a young boy who works for Fagan. He also meets a very dangerous criminal named Bill Sikes and his kind girlfriend Nancy.

While learning how to pick pockets, Oliver is arrested and sent to court. The intended victim, a kindly, wealthy gentleman, takes pity on Oliver and actually asks the judge to allow him to take Oliver to his home. For the first time in his life, Oliver has a good home. In an incredible coincidence, or twist of fate, it becomes clear that Oliver is in fact the relative of the kindly gentleman. But before Oliver can finally learn that he is no longer an orphan, he is kidnapped by Bill Sikes, who takes him back to the run down section of London where Fagan and his gang lives. But Oliver’s uncle comes to rescue him.

You will listen to and learn four songs from the musical Oliver!.

You are encouraged to find time to watch and appreciate the entire musical.


A. “Food Glorious Food”


1. The song is sung by the orphans as they queue up to receive food. As you listen you will hear a number of words and expressions about food and eating.

2. Below are some of the key words and expressions you will be listening to. Look up the ones you do not know. Use your dictionary, or an online dictionary, to learn their meanings and pronunciations.

Food terms Eating terms Expressions























 bill of fare

 loosen your belt

 work up an appetite

3. Listen to the song.

4. As you listen to it a second time, read along with the lyrics sheet (which your teacher will provide) and fill in the blanks with the vocabulary items above.

Teachers’ notes

*Teachers would need to provide a worksheet for “Food Glorious Food” with some of the words of the lyrics blanked out.


B. “One Boy for Sale” and “Where is Love?”


1. Take a look at the jumbled lines of the lyrics for the songs “One boy for sale” and

“Where is love?”(which your teacher will provide).

2. With a partner, put the lines in the correct order by looking for contextual clues. Use a dictionary to look up the meaning of words you are unfamiliar with.

3. After you have arranged the lines, read them over to see if they make sense.

4. Listen to the songs.

 Did you arrange the lines the same way as they appear in the song? If not, how are they different?

 Why do you think the lines in the song are arranged in that particular way?

Teachers’ notes

*Teachers would need to prepare worksheets with the lines of the lyrics of “One Boy for Sale” and “Where is Love?” jumbled.


C. “Pick a Pocket or Two”


1. Before class,

Read over the lyrics of the song “Pick a pocket or two” (available at http://sufface.net/links/oliver-themusical.shtml) and discuss and/or look up any words that you are unfamiliar with.

Listen to the clip from the movie where Fagin and the boys sing “Pick a pocket or two” several times.

 First listen to learn the simple tune of this song.

 Once you know the tune, listen and make note of the words that are stressed by Fagan and the boys as they sing the song.

2. In groups of 5-6,

Divide the lyrics so that everyone has the chance to be Fagan at least once.

(If you really do not want to sing, you may recite or rap the words.)

Practise the song. As you prepare to perform it, be creative with how you might deliver it.




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