Introduce text type—free verse poem
Discuss—Background knowledge. Poems don’t need to have a beginning, middle and an end, like a story. They can have rhythm, but don’t need to rhyme. The purpose of a poem is to entertain. ‘A History Through Chimneys’ is an example of free verse.
Identify print features. Boyer has written three or four lines per verse, which don’t conform to a set pattern, or rhythm. First letter of each line is not capitalised. The reason for capitalising historically was to help distinguish it as a poem from other forms of writing. This rule is flexible and varies from form to form, which is why the form is called ‘free’.
Identify language features
Discuss. ‘A History Through Chimneys’ uses specific language to a carefully crafted ‘word picture’ to create strong images which in turn conveys ideas and evoke feelings, moods and emotions.
Make a copy of the poem and use highlighter pens to identify the words below. Use a different colour highlighter for each feature to create a labelled diagram for display in the class.
Identify literary devices and figurative language. Examples below are hyperlinked to compare with examples from the text.
- personification …watching the wind ruffled grass dance…warmed by the rollicking orange flames
- Similes Chimneys…like ancient trees
- Alliteration …wafting curling white whispers
- Descriptive words for poetry …little backs warmed by the old black stove
Brainstorm by asking questions about the text and the visual cues from the illustration.
- Whose point of view is represented in this poem?
- Is it from the point of view of the female (girl or woman) in the illustration or the writer who observes the woman and wonders what she is thinking?
Discuss the setting. The title provides a clue, using the word ‘History’.
- Do we have chimneys like this to heat our homes today? Why are there four? Where would they be in the house? Why are they the only thing left of the original house?
- All the elements in the old house created a feeling of warmth. What do we have in our houses today that makes them a home?
Use this Acrostic poem generator to write about home life today or in the past.
Write a letter to the past from the point of view of the woman in the picture. She could have been the mother of children living there, or one of the children. She could write to her siblings, her parents or her friends about memories they created together.
Background understanding students discuss differences between written and oral poetry and other texts.
- Text-to-text connections occur when we make connections between other texts in relation to the texts we are reading and viewing.
- Text-to-self connections occur when we make connections between personal experiences and the text.
- Text-to-world connections occur when we relate the text with what we already know about the world
Use Descriptive words for poetry to explore language that gives a sense of place. Use the class poster from Understanding (above) as a starting point then explore other settings from books in the class library.
Invite students to pose questions and clarify their understandings.
- What type of visual text is this?
- What is its purpose? (To entertain.)
- Who is the intended audience?
Questions about visual elements.
- How have the elements been arranged?
- What is the overall mood of the image?
- What techniques contribute to this mood?
Note: below, students can engage critically with this concept.
Use this Making Connections graphic organiser to ask targeted questions about the written text.
Summarise the poem in writing journals. Then answer the questions below.
- What do you think the authors purpose is for this poem?
- What was the author trying to say and what feelings was she trying to evoke?
- Is there a message?
- The word ‘warm’ is used many times in the text. What feelings are evoked by warmth?
Use this Concept map to assist with words and associations.
Compare and contrast home life in the past with home life now. The idea of what is comfortable and the elements that up a home may be different across time. For example, what was considered charming and homely in the past may be considered as uncomfortable these days! On the other hand, our complicated lifestyles may make us yearn for simpler times.
Discuss in groups—Memories can be triggered by the five senses. In the poem, hot bread conjures powerful memories. The smell of lavender may remind you of your grandmother, the smell of oil from trucks may remind you of somebody close to you who is always tinkering with mechanics. The sensation of warmth, the texture of material. What are some other memories are triggered by the five senses? Use this Five Senses Poem worksheet to organise these ideas.
Write about these memories and place on class display under headings for each of the five senses.
View the illustration by Gabriel Evans. Here is an example of how to read the illustration for salience (the part of an image to which the viewer’s eye is first drawn) and how to interpret the meaning.
|Artistic Style||Purpose and meaning||Shot angle
|Purpose and meaning|
|Loose sketch, impressionistic.||Relates to memories of the past, which may also be sketchy impressions rather than having a lot of concrete detail.||From above – Long and wide shot. Viewer is observing, looking down. Eye is drawn immediately from the red in the dress to the transparent, ghostly house.||Shows the place rather than the character, sets the scene. Leave the viewer wondering about the identity of character.|
Write a similar poem using descriptive language about home life today. Use the five senses worksheet developed in Engaging Critically (above).
Use this storyboard template to write about the people who used to live in the house.
Create a Timeline for past residents who may have lived in the house. Choose one and write a letter to the past.
View My Place for Teachers. This is story of one house in Sydney as told by the generations of children who have lived there over a period of over 220 years.
A History in Chimneys could be developed in a similar way as a whole class activity, students can create scripts in PowerPoint, or use various apps on iPads to create their own. This video by the Australian Children’s Television Foundation gives hints and tips when using the little lunch app on an iPad.
Conduct a plenary for the unit of work.
Students to write in their journals, focussing on:
- What I learned.
- What I would like to learn next.
Share poetry as a performance. Have poetry readings as a class poetry festival. Invite the buddy class.
Use this rubric for free verse poem for students to self-assess their progress in writing poetry in this form.