Feathered Fanfare

poem by Jenny Erlanger , illustrated by Michel Streich

Learning Intention: 

I am learning how vocabulary choices can express feelings and opinions so that I can experiment with multiple points of view in my own writing.  

Success Criteria: 

  • I can define the term evaluative language and find examples of it in a text. 
  • I can contrast two points of view in a text.  
  • I can experiment with evaluative language in my own writing.  

Essential knowledge: 

More information about how an author controls what we see can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Point of View. 

Prior to reading the poem, build the background knowledge of students by showing the YouTube clip Male Peacocks Head Off to Love Arena to Attract a Mate. After the clip, ask students to write a review of the male peacocks’ dances. Share the reviews in small groups.  


Provide students with a definition of evaluative language. Make sure that they understand the following points:  

  • Positive or negative language that judges how successful or good something is. 
  • Provides a judgement, opinion or point of view on something.  
  • Can be explicit by using adjectives, adverbs or verbs, or implicit, requiring inference.  
  • Evaluative language also includes modality, comparatives and superlatives.  

You may wish to provide students with a positive and negative adjectives evaluative word mat .and ask them to refine the clarity of their initial evaluation of the peacock’s dance.  

In groups, students revisit their reviews of the peacock. Instruct them to identify whether their evaluation was positive or negative and the language features they used to make their evaluations (adjectives, adverbs, verbs, modality, comparatives or superlatives).  

Read the poem, or if you have a digital subscription you may choose to listen to the audio recording.   

After listening to the poem ask the class to identify the speaker/narrator (unnamed observer, possibly a person watching the peacock in a park). Explain that we first see the point of view of the speaker. There is a twist at the end of the poem as the reader witness another point of view. Ask students to identify and explain the point of view of this character. (It is the pea hen who is unimpressed with the peacock’s display). 

Provide students with a table, such as the one below. Students record the evaluative language used in the poem. For example:  

Speaker/Narrator Pea hen
Positive Negative Positive Negative

Special dance

Finest way


Much pizazz

Eyes (verb)

That's all


Show students the YouTube clip Bird Of Paradise Courtship Spectacle | Planet Earth | BBC Earth. After viewing explain that they will write a poem in a similar style to “Feathered Fanfare”. They will choose to be an observer of either the Six Plumed Bird of Paradise or the Superb Bird of Paradise. They must give their point of view of the bird’s attempts at courtship, before revealing the negative opinion of the female bird.  

To scaffold the task, instruct students to rewatch the clip multiple times and construct a detailed list of the actions of their chosen bird. Students then select the actions that they believe are most effective in the courtship ritual. For example, students may focus on the cleaning habits of the Six Plumed Bird of Paradise, especially the bird scrubbing the branches.    

Next, generate a list of phrases with positive evaluative language that captures aspects of the birds’ behaviour. Encourage students to use the full range of language features and parts of speech.  

Finally, students should write two or three stanzas offering a glowing evaluation of the bird’s attempts at wooing a female. Their poem concludes with the negative evaluation and rejection of the female bird.