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Monday, December 28, 2009

Hannah Frank poetry competition - teachers' notes

Here's an interview I did with Mrs Wood, the teacher at Pollokshields Primary School, after she'd worked with six top primary children to come up with some poetry inspired by Hannah Frank's drawings. For more info about the Hannah Frank poetry competition (free for 18 and under, £3.00 entry fee for adults - first prize £200 adult, £100 16-18 (and prizes for three other under 18 age categories too) - plus a framed Hannah Frank print for the winner, and for their school if they're still at school - go to the Hannah Frank website (if you have trouble opening it, use Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome).

And see the photos of the launch, and of Mrs Woods' children's poetry display, on the next post down.

18th December 2009

Launch of Hannah Frank Poetry Competition

Interview with Mrs Wood, teacher at Pollokshields Primary School

Fiona Frank: I am in Pollokshields primary school and Mrs Wood has been working with six children on Hannah Frank drawings. So tell us about that.

Mrs Wood: Well, we looked at various drawings and we talked about how they were very related to the art nouveau theme, and they were monochrome. And we looked at the brush strokes and the lines. And then we decided to choose one, and interestingly they all chose different ones. And then we had to look and say what does this picture tell us, what story is this picture telling us, how does it make us feel, what are the emotions and what is the mood of the picture. And they had a couple of minutes to write that down personally, and then they paperclipped the picture to what they had written and passed it to the person next to them, and it went round the group, it was a wee carousel. After so many minutes passing it round, they read what the previous person had written and added to it, they took the picture and added their thoughts and then it went back to the original person, who then took all of what was written on the A4 sheet, sometimes two sides. And they did a sketch of a poem, and then we looked at them and then all six of us then condensed that further down. They started off with a wee bit of a story and condensed it down into how poems are more phrases and words and lines to make it more punchy and catchy, and we wrote the final result from that. It was very exciting.

Fiona Frank: And you did it just in two afternoons?

Mrs Wood: Two afternoons

Fiona Frank: With just the six children?

Mrs Wood: With just the six children, and we had three computers on the second afternoon, so some were on the computers and some were handwriting them so we had a display as well for the school and the typed ones are going into the competition in March and they just did it as a wee kind of swapping back and forth. So that was good.

Fiona Frank: And then the written poems have been illustrated in a Hannah Frank sort of way, haven’t they.

Mrs Wood: That’s right, when they were writing them they took their inspiration for the borders through the different lines that she was using, the geometric shapes, the thickness and the thinness of the lines, the waviness, how you could add texture just from using a pen to put marks down on a page. Some are more successful than others but I think they all turned out really well

Fiona Frank: Are you an art teacher or an English teacher?

Mrs Wood: Just a primary teacher – jack of all trades as they say in primary school

Fiona Frank: It’s good doing it in Primary as you have to know everything about art and everything about writing…and children…. And how old are these children?

Mrs Wood: Eleven - primary seven age, coming on twelve, so they’re going to secondary school in August. It’s been a very exciting experience for them. They really enjoyed it. I would actually have quite liked to – and maybe next year I will – do it with a whole class. I think it’s been so successful. At first I thought this was quite a tall order, this was quite difficult – and I was actually amazed at what the children came up with. And I think sometimes we underestimate children, that they can see and come up with things deeper than what we think, what we expect of them, I definitely think it could be a project to do with a whole class. Even if you had less able children you could do them in groups so that they had a chance to put something towards a poem that maybe they were working in groups of two or three, each putting a few lines or something into the poem, to give them a sense of success as well from having taken part in it.

Fiona Frank: And then some people who aren’t brilliant poets are artists aren’t they?

Mrs Wood: Well that’s right. They could maybe even try to do their own picture using black pen, in the same style. They could even research other artists that use that style, that work in a monochrome technique, other art nouveau, that would be interesting. I think it would be a great thing. We actually, in primary seven, do, for part of the art programme, it’s called ‘Headlines’, you look at hair, and you try to create textures and movement with your pencil line to show the waves in the hair, the thickness and thinness and bits of hair, I thought that marries that, as well, and it puts it more in a context, rather than doing this art thing that’s not related to anything. That can tie it in to a person and paintings – a person who actually came to this school as well.

Fiona Frank: Fantastic! My hope for this competition is that primary children all across Glasgow and Scotland and internationally start looking at this work, and that Hannah Frank becomes as well known as whoever else you look at all the time

Mrs Wood: …as well known as Rennie Mackintosh

Fiona Frank: And by closely looking at these drawings it’s making them really know the artist as well, isn’t it.

Mrs Wood: That’s right. And I didn’t know about her either beforehand either, so I’ve learned something. I’m quite arty and quite like her art. It’s been a revelation to me as well. So…

Fiona Frank: Fantastic. Thank you so much.


Jude said...

I especially like that Mrs Woods said: "At first I thought this was quite a tall order, this was quite difficult – and I was actually amazed at what the children came up with." I
t's very encouraging that these children (and, I am sure, other children in the future) do come up with things that are 'deeper' and more considered than we adults may expect.
Good luck with the competition. I am currently running a small, light-hearted competition on my own blog - just to encourage involvement and thank those who already read and contribute.

Ann Marie Foster said...

I thought Mrs. Woods'method of making poetry more accessble by enabling the children to write collaboratively was very inspiring. It could also be a useful model for other teachers.

Mrs Woods has shown how the collaborative process encouraged the children to express their emotions, and write personal responses to Hannah Frank's work. Following this collaborative model of working would give children of all abilities the confidence to express their thoughts through poetry.

I think a group poem category would be a great addition to the competition.

I would like the opportunity to read the poems written by the children who worked with Mrs.woods.