UNIT IDEA: Poetry as social commentary

14 Jul

I would like to run a poetry unit for my Year 9 classes that explores the role of poetry in commenting on society.

The first lesson would focus on social issues.  In particular, we would need to define what this means and then come up with some examples.  Students would then be asked to identify things in society that they take issue with/are unhappy about.  I would steer students towards big topic issues, perhaps those related to sustainability and climate change, animal rights, GLBTIQ rights, multiculturalism, refugees’ rights and the like.  We would create a list of these on the board, discussing each as we go.   Using one as an example, we would work together to complete an ALARM literacy table identify that area and teasing out why it matters and is important.  Students would then work individually to complete a second ALARM literacy table, this time using a different issue.  We would then discuss the responses.

The following lesson would involve a discussion about how people might go about addressing these perceived issues in society.  This would hook into a discussion about the role of poetry in voicing social discontent.  We would then revise the ways that poets craft their messages (techniques).

The next lesson will require students to engage with a poem.  We would read the poem together/I would read aloud, and students would be taught to code the poem to identify what they know, what they don’t understand and any questions they have.  We would discuss and then move into analysis.  The depth and rigour of analysis would likely differ between my classes.  This process will be repeated another one or two times with new poems (these poems would relate to ideas raised by students in the early stages of the unit).

Assessment for this unit would have two components.  The first will involve students selecting ONE of the poems and identifying how that poem raises an important issue and how effective it is in engaging with that issue.  The second will require students to reflect on why their chosen poem and the issue that is conveyed therein resonates with them personally.  I might embed within that second component a requirement for students to consider how they can further draw attention to their chosen cause/issue, thus prompting potential community engagement.


One Response to “UNIT IDEA: Poetry as social commentary”


  1. ‘Earth Day’ | Once uPUN a time... - March 2, 2016

    […] have written often about sustainability and the environment, with a particular focus on how these issues are represented in poetry.  While […]


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