Offering Choice on National Poetry Day 2021

An activity for National Poetry Day 2021 – Choice

This year’s National Poetry Day theme is Choice. So why not offer choice to your students, in an encounter with poetry on this day? Instead of looking for poems about the theme of choice, EMC is suggesting for you a simple strategy, taken from our publication KS3 Poetry Plus, that allows you to give some choice to students in reading poetry.

All you will need is a selection of poetry anthologies, ideally enough for one per student, or one between two.  Ask students to choose a poem for someone else – a friend, a relative, a teacher – a poem that will say something to them, about them or for them. If you haven’t got enough anthologies to take into your classroom, take your students into the library, or allow them to use a device to browse a poetry collection online. The Poetry Foundation or The Poetry Archive are both excellent collections that offer opportunities to search by theme as well as by poet.

Choosing a poem could be a 20-minute activity, involving browsing and selecting a poem. It could be extended to include writing it out to actually share with someone. Or it could be an activity for a whole lesson, including, for instance sharing the poems chosen by reading them aloud across the class, or writing reasons for choosing that particular poem, or adding a message to the person it’s for, explaining the choice.

In an educational climate where students and teachers might feel that choice is often constrained, here’s a chance to offer some real choice to your students. And if you have experiences or images of what happens to share, EMC (on Twitter @EngMediaCentre) would love to know about it! For Twitter, use the hashtag #NationalPoetryDay #EMC. (If you’re tweeting, do remember not to tweet whole poems in copyright.)