A few years ago we worked with three other schools on a performance poetry project that we’re keen to build on this year. The project was born out of a collective desire to improve the children’s understanding of poetry and to further their speaking and listening skills. All four schools were keen to work together and share the children’s work. We had identified Y4 in each of our schools and introduced them to the project agreeing with them clear success criteria and desired outcomes. We pooled our finances and paid for the poet Paul Cookson to spend a day in each school with an additional fifth day to run a master class for each school’s winning poets and an evening performance to families and friends.
Paul got the project underway in each school, working with each Y4 class in turn. The children readily responded to Paul’s lead and we began to see some great results. Once the children had written their poems in small groups, they were then taken to one of the partner schools where their Y4 peers marked their work to an agreed criteria. The poems were then retuned, amendments made, and the results video conferenced to each class, enabling the children to give further feedback to each other building a constructive, supportive dialogue across the four schools. Finally the performances were ready to be presented to the rest of our schools in assemblies and the best three or four from each setting were then chosen to be further worked on in a shared master class with Paul. He worked with all the chosen children together which gave them a chance to further collaborate, working together to develop their performances before the poetry evening.
Paul compered the evening and recited a number of his own works for parents, families and assorted guests. The children performed their own poems and a book and dvd of all the works was sold on the evening off setting the minimal costs of the project but more importantly to give the children a record of their achievements. The project ran over a half term, it fired the children’s imagination, motivated them and help them appreciate poetry. It helped them develop confidence on their speaking and listening skills and a provided four school communities with a great chance to come together to share their children’s learning. In these days of web 2.0 I’m sure we can build on such a collaborative effort and I am looking forward to getting involved in a similar collective effort with our partner schools this year.