The Beast

poem by Carolyn Eldridge-Alfonzettin , illustrated by Matt Ottley

Learning Intention: 

I am learning to discuss ideas about texts with others so that I can consider different viewpoints to develop a more informed opinion. 

Success Criteria: 

  • I can identify and interpret personification in a text. 
  • I can respectfully discuss ideas with others and listen to alternate points of view. 
  • I can creatively express my opinions through a character’s perspective.  

Essential knowledge:

Information about identifying reliable sources of information can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Perspective. 

Read the poem together and discuss what the beast may be (e.g. a strong wind storm, such as a cyclone). If you have a digital subscription, you may wish to listen to the audio recording to give students clues by listening for tone and emphasis.  

Ask students to identify the personification in the poem, reminding them that this means applying human characteristics to other things. These should include: 

  • Bounds across 
  • Howls loudly 
  • Lifts high 
  • Licks away 
  • Shakes the quaking palm trees 
  • Rakes dune grasses 
  • Having done all it had planned 
  • Slams a beach house door 
  • Panting 
  • Slinks away to rest 
  • Mounts another onslaught

To further personify the windstorm, students are to conduct a mock interview with it. The teacher may like to model through "think aloud" with a "thinking partner" what this could look like. To prepare, discuss its ‘personality’ and why it may be behaving the way it is. Ask students to make connections by reflecting on their own anger and frustration and feelings of wanting lash out at times, and to consider what the wind’s reasons may be for its destructive outburst. For example, perhaps it has been blamed for something it didn’t do or maybe it is sick of everyone celebrating the sunshine but being unhappy with the wind.  

Discuss different ideas and encourage students to respectfully debate points of view. They should then work with a partner to brainstorm and decide what their take will be on the wind’s personality and behavior. This should influence the questions they would ask it.  

To conduct the interviews, they should take turns in each role – both asking questions as the interviewer and answering questions as the windstorm. 

If time allows, students may like to act out their interviews for the class.