Owl, Hunting

poem by Sophie Masson , illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Learning Intention

I am learning how literary devices affect the way we read poetry so I can understand how to best use them in my writing.

Success Criteria

  • I can identify and discuss literary devices used in a poem and discuss the effect they have on the way I read it.
  • I can rehearse and read a poem out loud taking into consideration the effects of the literary devices.

Oral language and communication

Have students read the poem to themselves silently. Afterwards, ask them what they notice about the poem. Answers may include observations such as:

  • There is repetition of ‘Whoo’ in the first stanza
  • The spelling of ‘Whoo’ is different from the correct spelling of ‘who’ and may suggest the sound of an owl’s hoot
  • There are dots (ellipses) between the repetition of the word tonight at the end of the first stanza and at the very end of the second stanza
  • There is repetition of ‘A’ at the beginning of four lines in the second stanza.

Ask students to quietly read through the poem again and consider how the observations they’ve made affect the way they read the poem aloud. For example, they may stretch out their pronunciation of the word ‘whoo’ to imitate the sound of an owl or pause at the ellipses.

Break the class into small groups and have students take turns of reading the poem out loud to their group, experimenting with the way they read it to suit the words of the poem.

Understanding text

After allowing enough time for all students to have a turn of reading within their group, have a class discussion about the poem by posing the following questions:

  • How did the patterns and repetition in the poem affect the way you read them aloud?
  • How does the rhythm of the poem influence the mood it creates? (e.g. creating fear or urgency)
  • How does the onomatopoeia (whoo) impact the way your read it?
  • How does the poem influence your perspective of the owl (e.g. it is a predator, it is a danger to small animals, it is unfriendly)
  • How does the poem help you consider the perspective of the other animals in the forest?
  • What imagery does the poem create for you?

Groups should then come back together and reflect on their answers by discussing any changes they would make to the way they read certain parts of the poem. Inform students that they are going to do a group reading of the poem for the rest of the class. Each group should divide the poem among all members to ensure they are each having the chance to read a similar amount (e.g. approximately half a stanza each for groups of six).

Assessment as learning

Have groups rehearse and refine their reading of the poem, reminding them to take the previous observations and discussions into consideration when reading. Groups should then perform their poetry reading for the class. Once all groups have performed, discuss the outcomes of this activity to identify similarities and differences between the way groups interpreted the use of literary devices in their reading.

Have students complete an exit slip using the following questions:

  1. What literary devices did you identify in the poem?
  2. What are some ways these devices affect the way you read the poem out loud?