Poetry- ‘Tich Miller’ by Wendy Cope.

This is a great poem! Pupils always love this poem as it is relevant to their lives. It is a poem about a young girl named Tich  Miller who gets builled. Tich does not fit in as she has some form of disability.

I have not written a lesson plan in this post as my power point is pretty self explanatory. It has notes and activities.

Click here for my power point:  tich_miller_power_point (4)

Some assessment activities included are:

Write a conversation between Tich and Tubby. This conversation could take place in the changing rooms after games.

In groups – Use speech bubbles -choose lines from the poem which reflect the different voices.
The phrase or line which reflects the dominant voice should be written in the biggest speech bubble, and the other voices in the others depending on their significance.

Look up 5 words in a dictionary.

Prepare an interview with the speaker of the poem, ten years later. Ask her to discuss her school life and what she is doing now.

Write a newspaper article about the death of Tich Miller.

Questions about the poem/fll in the blanks.

Tich Miller

 Tich Miller wore glasses

with elastoplast-pink frames

and had one foot three sizes larger than the other.

When they picked teams for outdoor games

she and I were always the last two

left standing by the wire-mesh fence.

We avoided one another’s eyes,

stooping, perhaps, to re-tie a shoelace,

or affecting interest in the flight

of some fortunate bird, and pretended

not to hear the urgent conference:

‘Have Tubby!’  ‘No, no, have Tich!’

Usually they chose me, the lesser dud,

and she lolloped, unselected,

to the back of the other team.

At eleven we went to different schools.

In time I learned to get my own back,

sneering at hockey-players who couldn’t spell.

Tich died when she was twelve.

by Wendy Cope

My analysis of the poem

This poem deals with the cruelty of schoolchildren and the way in which young people can feel isolated from their peers. The opening lines of the poem introduce Tich immediately to us.  The use of her name, as opposed to simply calling her ‘A girl in my class’ makes us feel connected with the subject of the poem and brings a note of reality to the topic.  We know the girl’s name, and this brings her to life for us, in a way.  She is not just a statistic or an anonymous sufferer of bullying or isolation: she is a real girl.  Tich is described as wearing glasses in a sickly colour of pink: the colour of elastoplast.  There is nothing attractive about this image and we may well wonder at this stage about the poet’s intentions.  Is she setting out to mock Tich?  She is not, although Tich’s peers in the poem do.  Tich’s unfortunate appearance is conveyed again in the third line when we learn that one of her feet was three sizes larger than the other.  There is something almost humorous about this image, but not quite.  The poet’s language is simple and we are faced with a young girl who is almost clownish, but whose situation arouses our sympathy rather than our laughter.  The simplicity of the language throughout the poem conveys the simplicity of the language and thought process of young children, while also forcing us to face the issues being dealt with.  It is very thought provoking. There is no flowery language, no euphemisms to hide the harsh reality.

In the second stanza, the poet relates herself to Tich.  When it came time to choose team members for games, the poet and Tich were always left until last.  The mention of the ‘wire-mesh fence’ makes us think of prison, or a cage.  The pair are trapped in their bodies and trapped in their shared plight.  They cannot escape the embarrassment which befalls them week in, week out.  The use of the word ‘always’ suggests that this humiliation was a very common occurrence. Perhaps it happened weekly in P.E class. Although Tich and the poet were united in their distress, they were not closer because of it. They avoided making eye-contact with one another and pretended to tie a shoelace which did not need to be re-tied rather than talk to one another.  Perhaps they wanted to avoid facing the fact that they were both rejected by their classmates, or perhaps they did not want to be seen to be connected in any way/have any similarities.  The poet says that another avoidance tactic was to pretend to be interested in the flight of a bird overhead.  The bird is described as ‘fortunate’.  It can fly away; it can escape any tormentors.  The girls cannot.  Also, the bird is graceful and elegant, unlike Tich and the poet who are both awkward.  By looking at the bird, they can also fool themselves and others into believing that they can’t hear the ‘urgent conference’ of the other girls deciding which of the pair is the lesser of two evils.  Neither is wanted, but one must be chosen.  We learn for the first time that the poet was a fat child: the others call her ‘Tubby’.  Nobody seems to want either and they argue amongst themselves, within earshot of the rejected girls.

The poet tells us that ‘usually’ she was chosen: not because she was wanted, but because she was not quite as bad as Tich.   The word ‘usually’ again reinforces the idea that this humiliation was very common during the girls’ early school days.   Tich, being the last one left, had no choice but to ‘lollop’ to the back of the other team, even though they had not selected her.  She had to join their team simply because no-one chose her. The onomatopoeic word ‘lolloped’ suggests Tich’s graceless way of moving.  Again, it might be humorous in another context, but it is not here.  We can visualise her slow progress to the back of the group all too clearly and imagine the tortuous slowness of her gait and her awkward run.

For the poet, things changed.  She moved on to a different secondary school and she learned to use her academic ability to get her own revenge on the sporty types who had sneered/builled at her in earlier days.  It is interesting to note that the poet found a different way to bully, but did not learn that mockery is cruel and should be avoided.  Like so many people who are picked on, she found her own way to do that to others.

At this point in the poem, there is a complete stop and a break before the last line, which stands alone.  This adds dramatic effect and makes us really concentrate on what is about to be said.  What follows is a simple one line 6 word statement.  ‘Tich died when she was twelve.’  There is no comment on simple sentence. There is no judgement either but we are saddened by the fact that although the poet found her own way to cope, sadly Tich never did.  Her very short life ended without her ever managing to be respected or liked by the other girls. She never made any friends.  Just as Tich could not avoid her fate, we cannot avoid the tragedy of this sad ending.  There is no attempt to soften the blow or to explain what happened.  The last line is very important. The fact that the last line stands alone symbolises Tich’s standing alone, unwanted and unselected to the end of her brief, lonely life.

Themes:

  1. School
  2. Youth
  3. Bullying
  4. The misery of being left out and alienated at school.
  5. The cruelty of schoolchildren.
  6. Embarrassment/Humiliated –The girls are embarrassed they are picked last.

Repetition: Repetition is used to good effect in the poem too: the use of the word ”always” suggests that this ritual humiliation was a common occurrence. The poet uses Repetition in the poem. “No, no, have Tich!” The poet uses repetition in the poem to show the reader that Tich was bullied harshly in school. It is used to emphasis this point as alliteration is doing in the above paragraph. This is effective because it creates a sad atmosphere in the poem.

Onomatopoeia:  Tich, being the last one left, had no choice but to ”lollop” to the back of the other team, even though they had not selected her.   The onomatopoeic word ”lolloped” suggests Tich’s graceless way of moving.  Again, it might be humorous in another context, but it is not here.  We can visualise her slow progress to the back of the group all too clearly. It does not require a lot of imagination to picture the expressions on the other girls’ faces as they watched her awkward run.

Tone: The opening lines introduce Tich immediately.  The tone of the poem is conversational and matter-of fact The use of Tich’s name, as opposed to simply calling her ”A girl in my class” makes us feel connected with the subject of the poem and brings a note of reality to the topic.  We know the girl’s name, and this brings her to life for us, in a way.  She is not just a statistic or an anonymous sufferer of bullying or isolation: she is a real girl.

Another tone of the poem is sadness, which is illustrated in the two last stanzas. The tone is sadness because the girl telling the story eventually went on to bully others, getting revenge on those who had bullied her while Tich died when she was twelve. She could have died from different causes but it somewhat implies that she had committed suicide. “At eleven we went to different schools. In time I learned to get my own back, sneering at hockey-players who couldn’t spell.” “Tich died when she was twelve.” The fact the poet wrote the poem shows that she cared about Tich. They are united in their distress but they are not close.

images (25) tich miller

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Rap is poetry.

Poetry is a type of literature, or artistic writing, that attempts to stir a reader’s imagination or emotions.

Poetry appears in many forms and styles.  This makes it difficult to define exactly.

One thing that makes poems different from other types of writing is their structure. The words of a poem are arranged in lines and groups of lines, called stanzas.

When a rap artist writes a song,  the sentence he writes are called ‘bars’ in the music industry.

Famous rappers are Jay Z, Kanye West, Drake, Nikki Minaj, Big Sean, Iggy Azalea, Eminem and Macklemore.

rap is poetry

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At the start of this lesson, you should brainstorm rap using a spiderweb diagram on the whiteboard or else by using a brainstorm handout. 

7 TIPS FOR WRITING A RAP

What do you think of when you hear the word rap? Do you ever think of… poetry? The two really are not that different. As a poet you need to be able to incorporate rhythm and flow into your pieces to make it sound appealing. Rap does the same thing. Poets often try to give their poetry visual elements by using figurative language (for example metaphors). The challenge with rap is making the piece appeal to the ear while conveying your message quickly, and keeping rhythm. Get started writing your very own rap, and who knows — you may be the next Eminem or Drake or Nicki Minaj!

  1. Brainstorm. Choose your topic and let your imagination run wild. To get started, many artists freestyle for a bit and write down every thought, idea, and emotion that comes to mind. Use this as your inspiration.
  2. Create a hook. The basic layout for a rap is intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus, outro. Many rappers start writing the hook (chorus) first. The hook captures the theme of the rap, and conveys its message to the audience. Rappers and lyricists in general start with this because the chorus is what people remember and take from a rap. It sets the rhythm and flow, and inspires what is said throughout the rap.
  3. Write lyrics. Use the brainstorming you did along with your chorus as a guide for what you are writing about and to build onto your ideas. Keep in mind that you have to maintain a rhythm since rap is music as well as poetry, and both follow a beat. Some lyricists listen to a beat as they write to help keep their rhythm.
  4. Be personal. Don’t lie in your raps about who you are, but to get your point across, you might want to use use hyperbole (exaggerating to the extreme). Typically, lines rhyme in a rap, but the words don’t have to match exactly–it all depends on how you say them . Always keep your message and audience in mind.
  5. Organize. Once you have an idea of what you want to say, organize your ideas. Break them up into verses while you keep in mind the layout for most basic raps:
  6. Memorize. Being able to recite your words from memory allows you to keep the flow and rhythm of it. So practice, practice, practice! Read and reread your piece until you’re sick of it. Play around with the tempo to see what sounds better with your style. Don’t be discouraged if you trip up on your words.
  7. Rap and share. With the rhythm down and the words engraved into your memory, you’re ready to rap. Record yourself rapping in front of a crowd or even alone in your room and share it on the site along with the lyrics! Let your voice be heard, and get going on your next masterpiece.     

Here are some video clips about how rap is poetry. 

Jay Z- Rap is poetry.

 Rap-is-poetry

An English teacher who rap battles with students.

Rap Poetry Class At Charter Oak Cultural Center.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar Visits Mr. Mooney’s Class.

Teacher’s Inspiring Classroom Rap Goes Viral.

A talk by Ted Talks- Hip-Hop & Shakespeare? Akala at TEDxAldeburgh.

Poems about rap. You can read the best rap poems. Browse through all rap poems.

http://www.poemhunter.com/poems/rap/

What part will you play in standing up to bullying?

This is a video clip from Britain’s got Talent (2014). Two young boys called Bars and Melody perform a rap about bullying. One of the young boys wrote the rap using his personal experience. All the judges were every impressed and they even won Simon Cowell’s golden buzzer.  Bars & Melody combine cuteness and originality, charming the judges and the audience with their skills. The pupils love this video clip as it is a topic they can relate too and also the boys are around the same age as your students. 

If you are using this video clip, at the start of the lesson you should define the term bullying.

Define bullying

At the start of this lesson, you should define the term bullying to the students.

Spunout defines bullying as the on-going abuse of another person through physical or mental torture. To make matters worse this torture is often conducted in the presence of others. The humiliation felt by the victim is hard to understand if you have never been bullied. If it happens over a long period of time it can have devastating effects on a young person’s mental health.

Explain bullying to the students. 

You should then explain bullying to the students. Either give the students facts about bullying using a handout or power point or else split the students into groups and get the groups to look up facts about bullying. This group work activity would improve the students digital literacy and enhance their communication skills as they have to work together to complete the task. I recently wrote a blog post about bullying.

Classroom activity- Group work- Write your own rap about bullying. 

Tell the students that they are now going to write their own rap song about poetry.

Split the students into groups.

Give each group coloured paper and a pen.

Tell the students that they have 8 minutes to complete this task.

Use a countdown timer to time the students. This motivates the students and also lets them know how much time they have left. You can use this one here – http://www.online-stopwatch.com/countdown-timer/

Each group will then perform their group’s rap in-front of the class.

We will have a class discussion about each group’s work.

group_work community  download

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During National Anti-Bullying Week 2014 the Diana Award’s Anti-Bullying Ambassadors programme brought together over 800 young people and staff from across the north and south of England to celebrate National Anti-Bullying Week with Bars and Melody. The events were held at the Blackpool Winter Gardens & the Emirates Stadium. Bars and Melody lead a music workshop for their Anti-Bullying Ambassadors by teaching them how express themselves through music.

Ireland Showcase 2015 – Bars and Melody’s Speech.

uktv-bgt-semi-final-4-bars-and-melody

Trim students tell story of Rising through song and craft

I am not a History teacher but I think it is important that we as English teachers understand Irish history. Cultural context is really important. It helps  to deepen our understanding of the contexts of Irish plays and novels that are set in different eras. Learning about he 1916 Rising particularly helps with William Butler Yeats poetry. A theme in his poetry is political issues. Yeats comes up most years on the English Leaving Certificate syllabus. Learning about this topic especially helps with his poem ‘Easter 1916’. This poem portrays his torn emotions at the political situation of Ireland at the time. It is one of themost poweful poems of the 20th century. In ‘Easter, 1916,’ Yeats focused so closely on an unsuccessful struggle in Ireland’s fight for independence, Yeats had timeless and universal things to say about it. Understanding the context of 1916 has helped me greatly to understand the drama ‘The Plough and the Stars’ by Sean O’ Casey. I am currently reading it with my Leaving  Cert students. I am looking forward to seeing the play in March in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

I saw this video clip on the internet and it reminded me of some websites that I have used to educate myself about the Easter Rising. This video clip is by Students in Scoil Mhuire secondary school in Trim in Meath and they show off the work they have done on 1916 art and song.

http://www.independent.ie/videos/life/video-trim-students-tell-story-of-rising-through-song-and-craft-31609679.html

Here are some websites about the Rising.

What was the 1916 Rising?

http://www.easter1916.net/

50 facts about the Easter Rising 

http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/50-facts-about-the-Easter-Rising-which-began-99-years-ago-today-PHOTOS.html

This amazing Irish rebel wounded in the Easter Rising is finally getting some recognition

://www.thejournal.ie/margaret-skinnider-road-2409258-Oct2015/

1916 Rising: Personalities and Perspectives 

http://www.nli.ie/1916/1916_main.html

The 1916 Rising- a brief overview

http://www.theirishstory.com/2011/04/22/the-easter-rising-%E2%80%93-a-brief-overview/#.VkDx37fhDIU

The 1916 walking tour

http://www.1916rising.com/index.html