HoverPack 1.0

poem by Diana Murray , illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Learning Intention: 

I am identifying rhythm and meter in a poem so that I can improve my delivery in the form of a poetry recital. 

Success Criteria: 

  • I can explain the features of a successful recitation of a poem. 
  • I can identify the rhythm and meter of a poem. 
  • I can combine my understanding of rhythm and meter with voice effects such as tone, volume, pitch, and pace.  
  • I can confidently and fluently deliver a stanza/poem to my peers.  

Essential knowledge: 

  • More information about communicating using sounds and tone of voice can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Code and Convention. 

Before reading the poem, lead a class discussion on why poetry is read aloud and the features of a successful recital. Students should recognise that poetry is intended to be heard and uses a range of sound techniques like rhythm, rhyme, onomatopoeia, and alliteration. Then, discuss the elements of a successful poetry reading, including:  

  • Tone – the way that you speak to someone, revealing your emotions or attitude about the topic 
  • Volume – choosing when to speak softly or loudly for dramatic effect 
  • Pitch – the highness or lowness of your voice, which makes speech sound natural and conveys emotion 
  • Pace – the speed of delivery, which further adds emotion and emphasis on key details 

Play the recital of Julia Donaldson’s poem Superworm,’ published by Bedtime Stories for Kids. Play the poem again, pausing at key moments to identify the speaker’s use of tone, volume, pitch, and pace (for example, the increased volume and pitch when delivering the line: ‘Help! Disaster! Baby toad…’). 

Explain that students will rehearse the poem ‘HoverPack 1.0’ and explore ways to deliver it in an exciting and engaging way.  

Deliver a neutral reading of the poem to the class. Ask students to identify the sound similarity between it and ‘Superworm.’ Focus on answers that link the rhythm/meter of the poems.  

Explain that both poems have four beats per line. You may also want to explain that this meter is called tetrameter and mimics human speech. Lead the class in marking the beats in the lines of poetry. For example:  

/ Heavy /backpack? /What a /pain! 

/Tired of /neck and /shoulder /strain? 

/Here’s some /news to /make you /cheer ... 

The /Hover/Pack is /finally /here! 

Then, with the class standing on one side of the classroom, march out the rhythm of the poem, with students taking a uniform step on each beat.  

Once students have consolidated their understanding of rhythm and meter, instruct them to make a second set of annotations. They will highlight the punctuation in the poem. Inform students that an exclamation mark needs increased volume and a warm tone, whereas a question mark indicates a raised pitch. Next, they identify the words that require emphasis. These should correspond to a beat. For example:  

/Heavy /backpack? /What a /pain! 

/Tired of /neck and /shoulder /strain? 

/Here’s some /news to /make you /cheer ... 

The /Hover/Pack is /finally /here! 

Provide students with an opportunity to rehearse. Finally, students perform to the class, or using an audio recording program such as Audacity they publish their interpretation on a class platform.  

Students’ recitals of the poem can be contrasted with the audio recording found on ‘The School Magazine’ website.