Poetry and the Possibility of Language

5. Collaborative and Independent Writing

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To explore how personal feelings, memories and viewpoints are developed in poetic forms
  • To compose a poem based on personal interests, experiences or emotions

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can suggest the ideas and emotions expressed by a poet
  • I can plan, draft and publish a piece of poetry
  • I can express my feeling and views in a poetic form

This stage explores the question, ‘Why do people write poetry?’ Students will examine the purpose of poetic texts before independently writing a poem. Targeted mini lessons will focus on specific structural and language features. It is recommended that students have learned about poetic structures and language features. Refer to stages 2 and 3 of this sequence.

It is strongly recommended that teachers review all suggested stimulus texts prior to their use to ensure their appropriateness and to enable rich, respectful discussion. For guidance on text selection refer to the Teaching and Learning Resources — Selecting Appropriate Materials policy.

Ask the students to work in small groups and brainstorm why people write poetry. Students could also view, Why Do We Create Poetry? to stimulate thinking. Encourage collaborative discussion. Students could present their thinking as a list poem.

Provide students with a transcript of Native Tongue, by Mojo Juju. Ask them to share their initial responses to the text. Prompting questions could include:

  • What do you think this text is about?
  • How did this text make you feel? What was it that made you feel like that?
  • Who do you think might have written this poem? 
  • Why do you think this? What are the clues?
  • Why might they have written this?

Students could record their responses on the text/performance comparison table available in the Materials and texts section. Encourage students to discuss each question with their peers and record their collective thinking.

Explain that they will now be viewing the film clip of Native Tongue. Ask them to pay particular attention to how the artist, Mojo Juju, brings out the meaning of the poem through performance, the rhythm of the words, her voice tone and imagery and how these dramatic effects influence their emotional responses to the work.

After viewing the video, ask students to consider the questions above again and complete their text/performance comparison table. Discuss students’ responses and the possible viewpoints presented in the song.

Further explore why people write poetry, and how poetry is used to present personal and political beliefs.  Share a video of Solli Raphael, the 2017 Australian Slam Poetry Champion, performing his poem, Evolution, or his 2018 poem, We Can Be More.

Ask students what they thought of the poem. Discussion prompts include:

  • What did you like/dislike about the poem?
  • What did you like/dislike about the way Solli Raphael performed his poem? 
  • Why do you think Solli Raphael wrote this poem?
  • What is the possible viewpoint that Raphael is trying to promote?
  • How is this poem similar/different to other poems you have read?

Students form small groups to discuss these questions, using the think, pair, share  protocol.

1. Collaborative Reading

Provide opportunities for students to collaboratively read and discuss a range of poems dealing with social and or political issues.  Ask students to form small groups and use the Word-Phrase-Sentence thinking routine to synthesise their ideas about the possible purpose and viewpoint of one poem. Questions to direct the discussion include:

  • What might this poem be about?
  • What are the possible social issues or themes that the poet is addressing?
  • What point of view do you think the poet is presenting?
  • How does this poem make you feel? What does it make you think about?
  • What are some of the words or imagery used in the poem that affect your feelings and thoughts? 

Suitable poems could include:



Enable students by providing accessible texts, for example, Gingerbread Man. You could also use shared or close reading activities to support students to identify and discuss the underlying themes and imagery in more challenging texts. during 

Extend students by providing poems with challenging themes and more sophisticated use of language features, for example, Hate For Sale.

Invite students to share their place mat responses. 

Promote discussion about the purpose of lyric, narrative and descriptive poems. Encourage students to express opinions on the style of poetry that they prefer to read and to explain their decisions. 

2. Collaborative or Independent Writing

Create an anchor chart of poetic forms and devices. 

Ask students what they care about; what ideas they might like to explore and share through poetry. Invite students to work in pairs or small groups to brainstorm a list of current issues, themes or events that could be explored through poetry. Display the list for future reference.

Explain to students that they will be drafting, editing, publishing and performing a poem on a topic or theme of their choice. Suggest that they spend time developing their ideas before deciding on a poetic form. Students could also use images to generate ideas.

Encourage students to select a topic of personal relevance and to mind map ideas, vocabulary, develop description and use illustrations to assist with planning. 

Support students to select a poetic form and begin drafting their poems. 

Enable students to have success with the writing task by providing examples of suitable poetic forms. For example, concrete, free verse, list, narrative and found poems.

Extend student writing by suggesting they create a personal poetry anthology, selecting a variety of themes and poetic forms.

During the drafting process, offer mini lessons on various aspect of the writing craft. Possible foci for mini lessons could include:

  • Guided or close reading sessions closely analysing the poetic structures and language features of mentor texts.
  • Looking to practising poets for advice: Listen to practicing poets reflect on their work and provide budding poets with tips on the writing process.
  • Shared and modelled writing sessions: Familiarise students with the planning, drafting, revising and editing process by demonstrating each aspect of the writing craft. This could be done as a collaborative or modelled exercise. You could also invite students to offer their work in progress for review and development. 
  • Using line breaks and exploring the ways that line breaks can be used to achieve different effects.
  • Using figurative language: Provide examples of poems that have used simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia, alliteration, consonance and assonance and support students to revise their writing experimenting with these poetic devices.
  • Developing precise and descriptive vocabulary: During writing workshops and individual feedback, encourage students to use precise and evocative vocabulary. Share Maureen Applegate’s poem, Be Specific, with students to model creative and expressive word choice. Encourage students to develop and enhance their vocabulary choices by creating word clines and using a thesaurus.
  • Exploring poetic forms and devices: The video, Short Form Poetry (available on ClickView, sign in using your Department credentials) could be used to explain haiku, cinquain and other short form poetry forms. How to write a haiku, explains haiku in more detail with examples.


Enable students to understand the structure of haiku and cinquain by providing materials that scaffold the poetic form. For example, an interactive haiku resource, or sample cinquains and a scaffolded planning tool.

Extend students by suggesting they use a more challenging poetic structure. For example, they could research and write tetractys poems.

  • Editing: demonstrate the editing process during shared and modelled writing sessions. Provide timely and targeted feedback on student work. Encourage students to develop ideas using poetic devices and to identify aspects of their poems they would like to improve. 
  • Performance techniques: Support students to refine their presentation techniques and develop their voice, tone, facial expressions and gestures. Provide the option to present their poems as a group performance.

During the drafting and revising stage, you could discuss and develop an assessment rubric with students. The rubric could provide guidelines around poetic forms and language features.

Provide opportunities for peer to peer feedback during the drafting and revising process. Students could use the quaker share strategy to feedback on small sections of their work. 

Celebrate student work with regular poetry performances. Ask students to provide written feedback on the work of their peers using the two stars and a wish protocol, commenting on two things that worked well and one idea for improvement.

Discuss with students how they would like to share their poetry with the broader school community. For example, they could display their poetry publicly around the school; hold performance sessions or even stage a special poetry event. Digital recordings of their poetry performances could also be shared with their parents and other classes. Consider holding a Poetry Slam. 

Ideas about how to celebrate and display poetry are listed here.

Collect written and digital copies of poems for assessment. 

ABC Education, 2015. Why do we create poetry. [Online]
Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/education/whats-with-poetry-ch-6-why-do-we-create-poetry/13497912
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Apel, K., n.d. Tetractys Poems. [Online]
Available at: https://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/whisker-of-poetry/tetractys-poems/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Australian Poetry Slam, 2017. Solli Raphael - Australian Poetry Slam Champion 2017 - Youth - "Evolution". [Online]
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O67Lg5txMMo
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Briggs, A., Gurrumul, G., McGregor, C. & Roach, A., 2015. Briggs - The Children Came Back ft. Gurrumul & Dewayne Everettsmith (Official Video). [Online]
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-wMbFntrTo
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, 2020. Poet Interviews. [Online]
Available at: https://clpe.org.uk/poetry
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, 2020. Poetic Forms and Devices. [Online]
Available at: https://clpe.org.uk/poetry/poetic-forms-and-devices
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

ClickView, 2016. Know Your Poetry: Short Form Poetry. [Online]
Available at: https://online.clickview.com.au/libraries/videos/3716233/short-form-poetry
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Coelho, J., 2019. Gingerbread Man. [Online]
Available at: https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/CLPE-NPD-resource-2019.pdf
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

DRMNGNOW, 2018. Australia Does Not Exist. [Online]
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKtt5QBpaKQ
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

For Reading Addicts, 2017. Hate For Sale: A Poem by Neil Gaiman. [Online]
Available at: http://forreadingaddicts.co.uk/video/hate-sale-poem-neil-gaiman/18610
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

George, K., 1997. 44 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month and Poem in Your Pocket Day. [Online]
Available at: http://www.kristinegeorge.com/celebrate_poetry.html
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Juju, M., 2018. Mo'Ju (FKA Mojo Juju) - Native Tongue featuring the Pasefika Vitoria Choir (Official Music Video). [Online]
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLQ4by3lUJo
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Juju, M., 2018. Native Tongue. [Online]
Available at: https://genius.com/Mojo-juju-native-tongue-lyrics
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Masonsan All Videos, 2016. How to write a haiku!. [Online]
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv6f5d8-vsc
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Museum of Australian Democracy Old Parliament House, n.d. Teacher Guide Graphic Organisers. [Online]
Available at: https://getting-it-together.moadoph.gov.au/teacher-guide/graphic-organisers.html
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Nesbitt, K., 2020. Poetic Device: Descriptive Poems. [Online]
Available at: https://www.poetry4kids.com/poetic-device/descriptive/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Nesbitt, K., 2020. Poetic Device: Lyric Poems. [Online]
Available at: https://www.poetry4kids.com/poetic-device/lyric/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Nesbitt, K., 2020. Poetic Device: Narrative Poems. [Online]
Available at: https://www.poetry4kids.com/poetic-device/narrative/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

New York Times, n.d. What's Going on in this Picture?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/column/learning-whats-going-on-in-this-picture
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

OutLoud Australia, n.d. OutLoud Australia.. [Online]
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpqK6jWCYJz98XnU1o2KunQ
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Readwritethink, 2020. Haiku Poem Interactive. [Online]
Available at: http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/haiku-poem-interactive-31074.html?tab=2%23tabs
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Readwritethink, n.d. Simple Cinquains. [Online]
Available at: http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson43/RWT016-1.PDF
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Red Room Poetry, n.d. The poetry object, ‘Overcoming clichés and using specific imagery exercises. [Online]
Available at: www.redroomcompany.org/media/uploads/the_poetry_object/avoiding_cliches_worksheet.pdf
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

TedX Talks, 2018. We Can Be More - a 13-year-old poet's campaign to save the world | Solli Raphael | TEDxSydney. [Online]
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lm0r3yFh0zU&feature=emb_title
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Walsh, M., 2016. Sunset. Newtown: Vagabond Press.

Writing Practice Program, 2018. Sentence Starters for Two Stars and a Wish. [Online]
Available at: https://support.wpponline.com/sites/default/files/2StarsandaWishSentenceStarters6-12.pdf
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

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