Summertime Dilemma

poem by Jesse Anna Bornemann , illustrated by Niña Nill

Learning Intention:

I am learning to create imagery with my use of language and vocabulary so that I can bring my ideas to life with my writing.


Success Criteria:

  • I can use my understanding of the meaning of ‘dilemma’ to identify dilemmas as well as create my own
  • I can come up with my own idea for a dilemma and use vocabulary to create imagery based on this
  • I can compose a poem using my idea and the imagery I have created



Through this lesson and assessment approach we are looking to map children’s growth through the lesson. Allow time for children to be introduced to the success criteria.

Using either an app such as Microsoft Reflect or hard copy emoji symbols, ask children to reflect upon each success criteria and identify how equipped they are currently feeling and how likely they are to achieve each success criteria confidently. Take note of children who identify as feeling anxious, nervous, curious, confident, and comfortable with the task at hand. Ensure they during your lesson you check in with learners to see how they are adapting to the new content.


Understanding text:


Warm up activity

Ensure students understand the meaning of the word ‘dilemma’ (a difficult decision, usually with two unappealing choices). Pose the following questions to the class:


  • Would you rather only ever be able to eat ice cream or never be able to eat ice cream again?
  • Would you rather only be able to walk on your hands and knees or sideways like a crab?
  • Would you rather have wings but not be able to fly, or gills, but not be able to swim?


Pair up students and ask them to come up with three of their own ‘would you rather’ questions to ask their partner.


Read the poem Summertime Dilemma aloud to the class, or if you have a digital subscription you may wish to listen to the audio version. Following this, ask students what they think and why the author has named the poem Summertime Dilemma (the narrator can’t decide between staying in the scorching heat or diving into a freezing cold pool). Ask students to identify the language that the author has used to highlight what makes each option unappealing.


Answers should include:

  • ‘far too cool’
  • ‘might as well be ice’
  • ‘blazing hot’
  • ‘like standing on the sun’
  • ‘scorching heat beneath my feet’


Creating text:

Ask students to come up with their own dilemma to write about. Model ideas on the board, such as:

  • Wanting to go on a giant slide with their friends but being scared of heights
  • Wanting to go and explore space with a friendly martian but not wanting to leave their family behind
  • Wanting to perform on stage but being too shy
  • Wanting to play footy in the park but the grass is covered in bindis


Students should then brainstorm their chosen dilemma by making a list of keywords about their setting and how they might feel in this situation. From there they should add descriptive language to their brainstorm that communicates the impact of their dilemma with the reader (e.g. the magnetic pull of the stage vs the burning glare of the spotlight). They should then use this language to compose a poem about their dilemma. You may wish to model one on the board first, such as:


I don’t want to watch

From way down here

But the giant slide

Fills me with fear


The long, endless stairs

Shake and sway

And my terror

Will not go away


But if I stay here

I’m left alone

Watching and waiting

On my own


I can’t decide

Do I stay or go?

Which is worse?

I still don’t know


Assessment for/as learning:


Now that the lesson has concluded, it is time to check in with students to monitor how they have taken on board the newly acquired learning. Using either an app such as Microsoft Reflect or hard copy emoji symbols, ask children to reflect upon each success criteria and identify how confident they are now with meeting the success criteria. Again, take note of children who are still identifying as nervous, anxious or confused. These are children who you may choose to provide more explicit instruction to in following lessons. Discuss with the entire class, who documented growth and change over the duration of the lesson.

Be sure you record the pre-assessment and post-assessment mapping, as it will provide valuable feedback to the impact within your classroom.