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Grid(un)locked-inspiring creative poetry analysis

After 18 months in Special Measures and being constantly under scrutiny (a particularly devastating blow to our department – we’d just attained 81% A*-C against a target of 69% when it happened) we’re always looking for new and interesting ways to bring engaging ideas into our classrooms. This idea came about in February as we were bracing ourselves for another Ofsted visit and has been a massive success with Year 10 and Year 11.

Here’s how it works:

1. Students work in pairs/groups with a poetry grid and two dice (tip-use foam dice!)
2. Take it in turns to roll the dice and answer the question. Others can add to/ expand an answer to raise to overall level of response once they’ve exhausted their ideas
3. If a double is rolled, talk on the topic area for 30 secs without hesitation, deviation… (you get the gist)

It’s simple, effective and fun but there’s more to it than just being a grid with pretty colours. Firstly, the questions are all linked to the mark scheme descriptors for the exam. The one in the picture is designed for the AQA unseen question and I’ve also created an adapted version for the Anthology poetry. This allows students to respond to the poems in a way that is directly beneficial to the exam skills they have to demonstrate.

Secondly, The colours aren’t random. Each colour is linked to a different area: pink=structure, purple=feelings and attitudes/mood and tone, yellow=language, blue=themes and ideas, orange=talk for 30secs, green (without doubt the favourite with students)=creative connections and ideas (not directly linked to a specific mark scheme area but to access the poem in a different way and just maybe come up with something that unlocks the poem in a way they wouldn’t have considered).

Thirdly, the way they choose the question to answer is differentiated. Say they roll a two and a four. If they take the larger number horizontally across the grid and the smaller number vertically, the question will be more challenging than if they do it vice versa. All the questions require thinking about but I think that to access discussion and ideas at the highest levels students often need to ‘warm up’ and this is one way they can do it.

You’ll see in the picture I also made a vocabulary grid to use alongside the game. Eight of the boxes link to the question areas, one includes the tentative language (could, may, might, possibly) we’d encourage students to use when exploring Literature. Whilst the words on the vocabulary grid are pretty comprehensive, I also made sure they fully covered anything students might need for the ‘Relationships’ cluster in the AQA Anthology.

For Year 11 who have studied all the poems and are preparing from the exam, they have used the grid in a few ways. Sometimes we focus on two specific poems. This is particularly useful prior to writing a ‘powergraph’ (more on this another time but it’s transformed the approach for our more able students). I mentioned creativity earlier. Combining the questions with a pick-a-poem style (ie pick two poems randomly from a bag/spinner) has generated all sorts of links and connections that students might never have thought about otherwise.

In whole class feedback, there a couple of ways it can been taken further. I usually ask what the most perceptive point is that someone in a group has made so everyone can benefit from different ideas. I’ll also ask which question has promoted the best discussion in the group-it can vary for different poems. I’ll then give students extra time to continue discussions, possibly looking at questions mentioned in the feedback part but they can also look at questions of a certain colour if the dice have missed out any areas or even just choose a question they fancy.

One of the other benefits that my less confident students have found is that certain questions really help them unlock ideas. These are the questions they revise and when going into an exam they can consider them if they are stuck. Many of my Year 10s reported this was the technique that helped them the most in their recent Unseen Poetry mock.

It’s interactive, fun and relevant. The responses are genuinely worth it and encourage students to think in a way that isn’t gimmicky but genuinely higher level. That’s been my experience anyway!

I’m happy to email the resources via DM.


  1. This is a real fun and interactive way to get students to approach poetry. Would you be able to email me the resources. I would love to try this out with my year 10s.

  2. This looks fantastic! Would you be able to email me the resources? I’d love to use this with my Year 11s in the final run up to the exams.

  3. Aimee – great idea. May I also ask for a copy? dat -at- davidterron dot com Thanks.

  4. This is brilliant Aimee. I’ve been planning some poetry speed dating but this looks far better. May I ask that you share your resource? natalieannetts at googlemail dot com Many thanks

  5. This looks great! I really like the ‘game’ aspect. Could I have a copy of the resource please? Thanks! e.gregory129 at gmail dot com

  6. looks fantastic aimee – could i have a copy – vickyrae1970@gmail.com.

  7. Love this-exactly what my students need! Can I please have a copy: ria_connery118@hotmail.com

    many thanks

  8. A great resource: supporting independent learning, deeper understanding and differentiation. I would love to try it, this year. Could I have a copy? – annie.towns@gmail.com

  9. Hey Aimee,
    I love this idea 🙂
    Could you email me a copy aggie.barrett@hotmail.com please

  10. Hey Aimee,
    I love this idea I want to give it a go with my students 🙂
    Could you email me a copy aggie.barrett@hotmail.com please

  11. Hi,

    This looks great.

    Please could you email me a copy at rosina.clemo@sandwich-tech.kent.sch.uk

  12. I absolutely love this idea and would love to try it out with my Y10s and 11s. Please could you email me a copy at: adele_croft@hotmail.com

    Thank you so much!

  13. I’m looking for a fun way to teach the poetry and this looks great! Please could you email me a copy at: lmoss@clwacademy.co.uk

    Thank you!

  14. Aimee
    I’ve just joined Pedagoo and know that my student teachers would love your poetry grid. It would be a lovely follow up to our session on GCSE. Could I share it with them? If so please email me sd100@le.ac.uk. Thanks Sue

  15. Hi Aimee. Could I request your poetry grid too please? sbrownlie@st-a-and-st-b.s-lanark.sch.uk – thanks in advance. Susan

  16. Dear Aimee,
    This looks great! I’d love to try it with my Year 10 class to revise IGCSE poetry. They are EFL learners too so the vocabulary list would also be very useful.
    I hope it’s still possible for you to send it.
    My email is xjones@britishsection.fr
    Thanks in advance.

  17. V said on March 19, 2016

    Dear Aimee,

    Would really appreciate a copy for an interview I have, victoriamkhopkins@hotmail.com
    Thanks in anticipation

  18. Hi Aimee,

    I teach middle (and some high school) English in Missouri and would love a copy of these resources. Thank you so much! My email is wplaschke@gmail.com

  19. Would really love a copy of these resources if at all possible! My email is amandajolanta@hotmail.com

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