Tag Archives: Poets in schools

Group Poem from Weston Point Primary School

A Day at the Seaside

Oh the salty, shimmering deep blue sea!
The sun blazes down on rainbow deckchairs,
crispy golden sand and fluffy towels.
Water is cold as ice for paddling.

Out on the wonderful big waves, a boat,
whose sailors never came back. Was it
a water tornado, a kraken or a megalodon?
Others go fishing, crabbing or exploring caves.

In the woods, it’s time for lunch and games.
Fairies fly sandwiches in. Vampires hide from light.
We play hide and seek, build dens but the Monkeysquirrel
wins the tree-climbing contest. Watch out for the Minotaur!

Before home, it’s to the pier for souvenirs.
Underneath it swims the Loch Ness Monster.
We go on the dodgems with the griffin,
then eat ice-cream and doughnuts.

It’s out of this world!

The way I write a group poem is to ask the class before playtime to think about what they would like to write a poem about. When they return, I gather the ideas and try to synthesise them. The ideas this time included mythical creatures, school, the seaside, so we decided to do a school trip to the seaside with mythical creatures involved. We decided on four stanzas, so divided the group into four, with a stanza each. Organising it by scenes was my idea. We had spoken about structure.
Each group then came up with ideas and recorded them on a mini whiteboard, with one person acting as scribe. They fed back their ideas to me after we decided on an order.
I then shaped and compressed their ideas into 4 quatrains. I think the result is fun, but more importantly, the pupils learned how to structure, control and shape a poem. They also learned some editing skills.

I must congratulate Weston Point on its marvellous reading and writing culture. There was a display of suprisingly mature poems on World War One, into which a lot of quality preparation had been invested.

The group poem was just one of the activities we enjoyed throughout the day, and the children wrote 3 individual poems.

Cover design of my children's chapbook, out tomorrow

Cover design of my children’s chapbook, out tomorrow


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Cornwall Tour

In Cornwall I will be working with six schools. One of the days is for Able Writers, when I am teaching Persuasive Writing through poetry. The others are working with the University of Famouth, doing a really fascinating project with the art department inspired by The Lightfoot Letters collaboration with Maria Walker. on 12 March, I will visit the university and work with a year 9 group. After a presentation and reading, I will work with half the group to write some poems based on memories while the other half collage, swapping over and repeating the writing workshop with the other half of the group. It has been really interesting planning this work as I am also making some links to the set poems they will be studying for GCSE next year. I am also doing four outreach workshops for them with different ages, all on a theme of the environment, and again leading to collage.

I haven’t been to Cornwall for a very long time, and I am hoping the weather will be a lot more spring-like down there. I will be doing a reading at an Arts Centre in St Ives on Thursday 14 March, and going to Penelope Shuttle’s book launch in Falmouth on 16th March. After all this excitement I will need the week’s holiday we have booked! I am very excited to see Rupert Loydell again as we have not met since 1997!

Hopefully some sightseeing will happen and some poems will get themselves written too. If anyone has any recommendations of what to do in and around Falmouth, do let me know.



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Angela Topping’s Poetry in Education

My poems are being used in the classroom:

‘After the Earthquake’ is included in a Geography textbook as an example of how it feels to be an earthquake victim.

‘The Butcher’s Shop’ is a set poem in the anthology Food Glorious Food set for English Language and Literature Advanced Level.

‘ How to Capture a Poem’ is included in a GCSE textbook.

‘The Athlete’s Dream’ was quoted on this year’s National Poetry Day poem cards.


Primary schools study my book The New Generation (Salt 2010) and a free teacher pack is available to any school which books me for readings or workshops.

I am on a ist of poets recommended by OCR for study practice for the Unseen poem, a feature of GCSE English Literature examinations.

My poems have also been used in connection with Oxfam, The Samaritans and by the Open University.

I have co-authored several GCSE textbooks for OUP, and written several focus books for Greenwich Exchange.

I am a Teachit key contributor and have uploaded many popular resources over the years.


Filed under Able Writers, Children's Poetry, Education, poetry, Poets in schools, Salt

Reading with Peter Street

Last night’s reading at Northwich Library was fun. As usual (well it is only the second one) I started off the night, then Peter enthralled us with his gritty, down to earth and sometimes funny poems. I still love the tree poems best. Peter has a lovely way of writing: close to conversation yet heightened. The readaround section was interesting, with a wide variety of material. The audience was different this time and it was nice to see some new faces.

I have a tight deadline for a teachers book for GCSE new specifications on teaching poetry, which is jobbing work for a poet but it does help pay the bills. I am still working steadily on the John Clare book, dying to get to the chapters where I can write about my top favourite poems, and putting poems in order for a new submission.

Just been reading Chris Hamilton-Emery’s excellent ¬†book, 101 Ways to Make Poems Sell. It’s given me lots of ideas about how to reach a wider readership and work more effectively to help publishers. Since my last publisher disappeared from the earth’s crust, this is all fascinating for me. It’s good to know I am doing a lot of the right things already, but it has given me some fun ideas on more things I can be doing. So watch this space.

Am still VERY excited about Salt doing my children’s collection as a solo collection for the short people has always been a dream of mine – it will make poets-in-schools bad much less cumbersome! Awaiting a delivery of natty postcards to contact local schools, with my poem ‘My Thumb’ on the front. I loved the two days I did in Huyton.

Meanwhile, I await news of my Oxford application, determined not to be downcast if I do not get on the course. What will be will be.

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Filed under Children's Poetry, Education, John Clare