1.1c Demonstrating a secure understanding of the conventions of written language, including grammar, spelling and punctuation
1.2b Using inventive approaches to making meaning, taking risks, playing with language and using it to create new effects
1.4c Exploring others’ ideas and developing their own
2.3c Generate and harness new ideas and develop them in their writing
2.3f Use imaginative vocabulary and varied linguistic and literary techniques to achieve particular effects
2.3q Use planning, drafting, editing, proof-reading and self-evaluation to shape and craft their writing for maximum effect
2.3v Signal sentence structure by the effective use of the full range of punctuation marks to clarify meaning
4.3a Develop independence in writing
4.3e Evaluate and respond constructively to their own and others’ writing
4.3i Write for contexts and purposes beyond the classroom
Each pupil will need a copy of page 2 of this lesson plan. You’ll also need an enlarged copy for class discussion. Write the poem’s structure (details are also on page 2 of this plan) on the board, leaving room around / beneath each line’s requirements for your pupils’ ideas to be noted down. You will be tapping out the rhythm of the poem in class, a table will work just as well as a drum, but a drum gives a sense of traditionalism.
Bring your class together and explain that today they will be writing an African Praise Poem using traditional African poets’ techniques.
Read your class the examples on below and discuss together. Now read them again, but this time tap the drum (or substitute) as you read the poems. Ask the class to shout back the lines in italic font. Traditionally, a praise poem would be drummed out, with the audience ‘praising’ too - the italic font is like a chorus that they’d sing to the poet. Ask your class for their views now - do they have any comments on tone, meter and rhythm now the poem has been performed? As a class you need to also discuss each line’s requirements and ask pupils for suggestions. Once you have done this, go through the ideas as a class and write an African Praise Poem. Once the poem is written select / ask a pupil to perform the poem, with the rest of the class joining in the ‘chorus’. Leave this, as well as previous ideas, on the board for pupils to refer to. Now your pupils are ready to write their own poem.
This is a 10-minute activity. Ask pupils to work in pairs to read their poem to their partner. Their partner is to provide feedback; something they like about the poem and a suggestion on how it could be improved.
More capable children can be given the challenge of using suggested key words and a selection of poetry techniques to include in their poem. Alternatively, you can ask them to write their poem about a specific person. Less able children can work with a partner / in a small group. You can suggest key words to include in their poem.
This is a 1-hour activity. The activity can be extended by the class re-drafting their poem and illustrating it. The activity is ideal for homework as well as a class activity. Examples can be found on page 2 of this plan.
There are different ways to write an African Praise Poem, but our version is a 5-lined poem, with a one-lined chorus that is repeated after every line. The poem celebrates the life of an individual, giving their name, heritage, and qualities etc, in a rhythmical style. Our guidelines are for writing the poem about you.
Line 1 - Introduce yourself : ‘I am ...’.
Line 2 - Tell us something about your heritage - where you are from, your family etc, in a descriptive manner.For example, if you were born in a car, you could be ‘Born on wheels’. Or you could tell us about your family by saying something like, ‘Darling daughter to a crime-fighter (policeman) and paper queen (office worker), super sister to the beast (teenage brother) and the tiny, pink gem (baby sister).
Line 3 - Compare yourself to an animal / natural occurrence (storm, rain, seasons etc) without using ‘like’ or ‘as’ (no similes allowed!).
Line 4 - Compare yourself to a different animal / natural occurrence (storm, rain, seasons etc) without using ‘like’ or ‘as’ (no similes allowed!).
Line 5 - Tell us a great quality you have using ‘I am ...’ and repeat a word that describes you perfectly, a few times. Chorus - Your chorus needs to praise you - imagine the audience chanting it back at you. It needs to be a short line that keeps the rhythm of your poem. Write this line in a different colour pen, or type in a different colour or font so the chorus is obvious.