The 10 Step Cheat’s Guide to Writing a Poem

I had a panicked phone call from my niece the other day. She’d been off school for a few days, and she’d just had a text from a friend telling her that they had to hand in a poem about sweets the next morning. It was already almost bedtime, so time was short.

Usually when teaching poetry, I’d have a selection available so that we could look at the structure of them, and choose one to use as a framework. There was no time for any of this however, so we had to bluff it. This is how she wrote a poem in 15 minutes…

  1. She chose the sweet she was going to write about – Turkish Delight
  2. She wrote down as many words to describe it as she could: lovely, jelly, pink, yellow, sugary, chocolate, flavours, strawberry, lemon, rose, cubes, sweet, tangy, nice.
  3. She wrote down words to describe what it felt like in her mouth (chewy, like heaven) and how she felt when she ate it (happy)
  4. She used a thesaurus to replace all the boring words (nice became enjoyable, lovely became delicious, happy became joyful)
  5. She grouped together words that started with the same sound (alliteration) so we got “joyful jelly (an example of personification) and “chewy, chocolate-covered cubes”.
  6. She mixed up the senses so that feelings and colours had tastes (tangy yellow)
  7. She was insistent that this poem had to rhyme, even though poetry doesn’t have to, so she chose some words she thought it would be easy to find rhymes for (jelly, rose, sweet, pink) and made a list of all the words she came up with that rhymed. She also looked at her initial list of words to see if there were any rhymes or near rhymes.
  8. She looked at the words she hadn’t used from her initial list, and picked out a couple of her favourites.
  9. She kept moving the groups of words around until she found an order she was happy with.

10. She wrote the final version out in her book in neat.

This is the final poem:

Strawberry-flavoured, joyful jelly
Feels delicious in my belly.
Chocolate-covered cubes of heaven
Sugar-coated, rose and lemon.
Tangy yellow, pink so sweet
Makes an enjoyable evening treat.

Ok, it’s not going to win any literary prizes but it’s not bad for a late-night, ¼ hour Skype video chat.

 

A Day in the Life of a Self-employed Teacher

Recently I signed up to a blogging challenge and one of the suggestions was to write a blog post about a typical day. That sounds all well and good…..except that I don’t have a typical working day!

Often I have work booked in in advance, which is great.  On those days I get ready for work and I go. Other days I wait to see if the phone rings. Most days it does and off I go to work. Other days it doesn’t and then I work from home.

But, whether the phone rings at the last minute, or the day is booked in advance, the work I do when I get there is the same though – right? Er…no! I teach across a whole range of ages, and teach every subject on the primary curriculum as well as specialising in languages.  One day I could be playing dolls houses and making chocolate crispie cakes in Nursery; the next teaching French to graduates at a local university. The day after that could be a 1960s themed day with Year 6, followed by a day split between Years 1 and 2 doing some Latin. The week could end with a day teaching deaf children.

On those days when I work from home the days are still varied. I maintain my own website and this blog, and also have responsibility for my husband’s website and blog for his tour guiding business. There are always emails that need answering and I sometimes proofread my husband’s translation work for him. I’m part of Team 100WC so I make sure I find time to read the children’s writing and leave comments for them.

I also take my CPD seriously, so a work from home day will include doing my homework for my British Sign Language level 3 course and reading and research for a level 3 course in Dyslexia Awareness, Support and Screening.

Four evenings a week and Saturday mornings I do private tuition for children aged 6-12, but again every lesson is different. Some of the children I work with need help with just maths, some just English and some both. Some have dyslexia and need a different sort of help, and some find the work they do at school easy and need stretching. As if that wasn’t enough variety, I am planning to branch out into 11+ tuition, and language teaching for businesses as well.

So – thanks very much to Nikki Pilkington for the suggestion in her 30 Day Blogging Challenge, but I’m afraid this is about as typical as it gets!

She Said They Said

She said “I need help.”
They said, “We’re busy. Maybe next week.”
She said, “Do you have time to help now?”
They said, “We’re still busy. Some other time.”
She said, “I can’t do this on my own. Please help.”
They said, “We’d love to, but we have too many things to do.”
She said, “I’m begging you.”
They said nothing. They just turned away.
She said nothing either. Too exhausted to ask again.
They said, “We had no idea she needed help so badly. We’re sorry we didn’t listen. We’re sorry for your loss.”

She said nothing. She was gone.

George and the Beast

This post was written as part of the 100 word challenge at Julia’s place. It’s my second attempt, because after reading the others I realised I had really wimped out the first time by not attempting to write about George and the Dragon.

George and his dragon made a clever team.
They travelled through the lands both far and near.
They had a plan that worked just like a dream:
The beast breathed fire and made the people fear…
He stole their cattle and their pretty girls,
Committed the most fearsome of deeds.
Then while the townsfolks’ minds were in a whirl,
Young George rode in upon his trusty steed.
He said that he could leave this beast for dead,
But it would cost at least a hundred crowns.
Then with his sword raised high above his head,
He charged and chased the beast right out of town.

After sharing out their loot, with smiles so smug
The two set off to find the next poor mugs.

Grandma

I’ve lost my Gran.
She’s still there,
I see her every Sunday.
She still sits in her favourite chair by the fire,
which is always on, even in summer,
because she says she’s cold.

Sometimes when she sees me, she smiles,
asks how I am and how my friends are.
We natter about the neighbours,
gossip and giggle.
We play her old wartime music,
sing along together
even though I don’t know the words.
We laugh.

But sometimes when she sees me she’s confused,
doesn’t recognise me,
calls me the wrong name.
That makes me sad.

Sometimes she’s scared of me, and that’s worse.
Thinks I’m a doctor come to put her in a home,
or a thief after her jewellery and nick-nacks.

Sometimes she shouts and swears,
has tantrums and throws things,
kicks and scratches, bites.
Then I don’t recognise her,
and that breaks my heart.

I’ve lost my Gran.
She’s still there, frail body in her favourite chair.
But in her mind she’s gone away.