GCSE Poetry

1 Power and Conflict poems
2 Love and Relationships poems

What makes these resources unique:

  • all matched to GCSE Literature Assessment Objectives
  • clearly organised prompts focusing on specific skills in the reading response
  • skills progression embedded so students are prompted through simple to more demanding reading responses
  • question range makes students familiar with the demands of different question types and question parts
  • designed for independent study at home or in school
  • lesson sequences include talk and groupwork
  • each unit covers language, form and structure, contexts and comparisons
  • suggestions for support and stretch extensions

Unit structure

1 Curriculum study focus:

A ideas, attitudes, feelings

The emphasis in these units is on distinguishing between these three terms:

Ideas relate to Thinking and Understanding. They are usually formalised concepts or notions – often expressed as nouns (e.g. Democracy, Socialism, Equality or loneliness, cruelty, conformity, culture and identity.)

Feelings relate to occasional personal and emotional states of well-being or ill-being – usually expressed as nouns or adjectives – fear/afraid, happiness/happy, sadness/sad, anger/angry, jealousy/jealous, ambition/ambitious

Attitudes relate to consistently conscious or unconscious behaviours in response to ideas, events, people and situations. They are a typical part of individual personality or a typical part of a culture or social group. They are usually expressed as adjectives e.g. suspicious, hostile, trusting, sceptical, acceptant, passive, aggressive (at the conscious level, they may develop from ideas: at the unconscious level, from feelings)

B language, form & structure

The emphasis in these units is one the way language is used to convey ideas, attitudes and feelings in the poet’s voice, or the voice the poet creates for the communicating persona. The language may be reflective, interrogatory, angry or anguished, and intended to provoke similar feelings in the reader. It may be used evocatively to create impressions and feelings through simile and metaphor, and it may be used realistically to represent moods and events through alliteration and assonance.

Whilst form is a matter of the common inherited or borrowed verse format (rhyming couplets, blank verse, sonnet, structure is more subtle and interesting because it is what the poet does within that form. The poet may choose a form of starting with feeling and moving through reflection to a firm conclusion, or start with an incident, then a development of its importance and a conclusion. Similarly, the structure could be the development from an initial idea to an illustration and then a feeling. It is the relationship between observation of people, events or situations and the poet’s thoughts and feelings that gives structure to a poem. Structure is what shapes the reader experience within the form.

C contexts & comparisons

These units help students to see that “context” is more than bolted on historical fact. They emphasise the con texts of reception and the context of theatrical performance. The variety of ways in which context has significance and can be explored is clear:

  1. the context of the poem’s setting (e.g. battlefield, workplace, home)
  2. the context of the poem’s writing e.g. (ideas of heroism, suffering, devotion, loss)
  3. the context of relevance (then, now and to any student)
  4. the literary context of poetry and readership (e.g. traditional/modern verse form and language, ideas and attitudes in earlier poems on the subject)

2 Learning context

Highlights some of the difficulties students are likely to find in relation to unfamiliar language, references, cultural contexts, ideas and attitudes. Wherever possible, links are made to students’ own experience and cultural capital.

Teaching focus

Each lesson reinforces the skills progression from the core skills of select and retrieve to the more developed skill of explain, then to the more sophisticated skills of exploration, interpretation and analysis. It prompts students to link ideas in the poem to personal as well as historical contexts.

Lesson sequence

Each unit suggests a practical sequence involving listening, reading, talking, groupwork and note-taking.

GCSE Revision Materials – Samples

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