Spring Training

poem by Rebecca Gardyn Levington , illustrated by David Legge

Learning Intention: 

I am learning how to use a range of vocal effects so that I can capture the meaning of the poem in my recital of it. 

Success Criteria: 

  • I can work out the meaning of a poem. 
  • I can use a range of vocal effects such as tone, pace, pitch and volume.  
  • I can recite a poem in an engaging manner while also correctly capturing the meaning of the poem. 

Read the poem to the class. As this is an activity where students will deliver their own recital of the poem, deliver the initial reading of the poem in a neutral way.   

After reading the poem, ask a series of questions to work out its meaning:  

  • Who is the speaker in this poem? (A sporting coach) 
  • Who are they speaking to? (A talented mosquito) 
  • What talents does the mosquito have? (Nipping a variety of body parts to suck humans dry) 
  • When is the poem set? (Just before summer – the mosquito season – has started) 
  • Why is coach speaking to the mosquito? (To motivate him to make it into the hall of fame and inspire the team) 

Next, revise the terms tone, pace, pitch and volume: 

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

Return to the poem’s premise and meaning: a coach trying to motivating a team member through their voice. You may wish to show the speech Ducks Fly Together from the film D2: The Mighty Ducks (classified G) and discuss how the coach uses tone, pace, pitch and volume to motivate his team.  

Break students into groups and ask them to annotate the poem using the following symbols:  

  • ______ (underlined text): a word to emphasise using tone and pitch 
  • / (forward slash): a moment to pause and slow down the pace 
  • á or â (arrows): a moment to increase or decrease the volume 

Remind students that punctuation also indicates that they should alter the tone, pace, pitch and/or volume.  

Extension: study the range of hand gestures used by Coach Bombay in the film clip. Students then incorporate a range of gestures into their recital.  

Provide students with time to rehearse. Students should then recite their interpretation of the poem either to the class, or digitally to become part of a class compilation.