The Heron

poem by Beverly McLoughland , illustrated by Matt Ottley

Learning intention:

I am learning to re-read and edit my own work using agreed criteria.

Success criteria:

  • I can analyse a poem and identify criteria
  • I can compose a poem based on observations of fellow students
  • I can use the agreed criteria to self-assess my poem
  • I can edit my poem to include any missing criteria


Read The Heron and discuss the following questions:


  • What punctuation can you see? (a colon at the end of line 7, a comma at the end of line 10 and 13 and a question mark at the end of line 15)
  • How many lines in total feature punctuation at the end? (4 out of 15 lines)
  • How many sentences are there in the poem (one)
  • What is the subject matter of the poem? (a heron standing in a pond)
  • Where are capital letters used in the poem? (at the beginning of the first line and after the colon)
  • What examples of figurative language are used? (metaphor, describing the heron as a ‘singular flower’)


Emphasise that the poem features limited punctuation, that a capital letter has not been used at the beginning of each line and that it includes only one sentence. Inform students that this style of writing, where a sentence continues over more than one line, is called enjambment. View the video What is Enjambment? from the Oregon State University for further information.


Place students in groups and provide them with post-it-notes or small pieces of paper. Instruct students to note anything they have learnt about enjambment on the post-it-notes. Discuss what students have identified, instructing them to add any they missed. Display the criteria for each group so they can use it later to self-assess the poems they compose.


Discuss the impact featuring only one sentence in a poem has on readers. Sample responses include, that it makes the poem quick and easy to read, it means it is easy to understand and that the minimal use of punctuation encourages readers to continue reading to reach the end.


Inform students that they will be composing and editing their own enjambed poems.

Discuss how students behave in their natural environment (the playground or the classroom). You may choose to do this by leading the students around the playground at recess time or by viewing a video such as: Elementary School Pupils Running Into Playground from DreamsTime.

Discuss vocabulary that could be used to describe the students in their natural habitat and note suggestions on the board. For example:

  • running, skipping, watching, waiting, eagerly anticipating the canteen opening

Discuss how to incorporate the observations of students into a poem that features enjambment. A sample response has been provided:


She stands


eyes trained on the shutters

never looking away:

until, the crunch of metal

the shutters lift

she sprints

money in hand

keen to make her purchase

after she turns

a smile on her face

as she eats her ice block.


Use the criteria on the post-it-notes to peer-review the poem composed collaboratively. Discuss which of the criteria the poem meets (e.g. featuring only one full stop, including only one sentence) and any which it does not meet (using descriptive adjectives).

Place students in pairs and instruct them to use their observations of their fellow students to compose a poem that features enjambment.

Once students have had time to compose their poems instruct them to use the criteria they created earlier to self-assess their poems. Discuss the number of criteria students managed to incorporate and any they are yet to include.

Allow time for student to edit their poems, striving to incorporate any missing criteria.