The Poetry Place
Personal Response - what's that about?Both A level and GCSE place value on a ‘personal response’ from students but it’s often easier said than done. Some students will need no encouraging to tell you or an examiner just what they think of a poem or a poet, from the ‘I love it, it’s great’ variety through to the ‘It’s rubbish. Why doesn’t he/she get a proper job?’ end. Others will find it hard to make any personal response, not wanting to stray out of the comfort zone of things teacher has told them or points made on Bite Size.
As with so many things, it’s good to start young. Before Secondary, of course! But certainly in KS3, asking students for opinions on what they read, be it prose or poetry. It’s always a two-part question: what did you think of X? Why / what makes you say that? Another way into this is through prioritising. Get them to list half a dozen or so poems in order of how much they like them. (They can’t put them all at the bottom!)
Some students could be tempted into more sophisticated responses by being asked which poems they think are well written / have something important to say / will still be read in 20 years time, and so on – and making that a question alongside that of personal like/dislike.
Points to make with students:
Archived blogsHow to...
Topics and themes
Parodies and homages
Different types of poem