Teacher: So as we stood under the tree, listening to the wind and watching the autumn leaves … did any words come into your mind? Call them out and we’ll add them to our word bank.
Students: Tumbling, spinning, turning and twirling, dancing, falling, spiral, letting go, windy, they sound like they are tap dancing on the pavers …
Teacher: There are some wonderful words and phrases here. Are there any ideas that belong together?
Student 1: There are a few things about dance. Like the sound of tap dancing, and twirling like a ballerina.
Student 2: That’s called a pirouette. We should add pirouette to the word bank.
Teacher: OK, so I’ll add pirouette. And then I’m going to change to a different coloured pen to connect ideas. [Draws lines between pirouette, dancing, twirling and tap dancing.] So we’ve connected some ideas. Are there any words that belong together because of the way they sound?
Student 3: I think, like turning and twirling. They’re not exactly rhyming but they kind of sound similar.
Student 2: And tumbling could go with them too, because they all have alliteration with the t at the start.
Teacher: OK, great, so alliteration is a poetic device we’re really familiar with, and we could play with the effect of that repeated t sound in the poem if we wanted to. Are there any other repeated sounds in our word bank?
Student 4: What about spinning and spiral? If we make it into spiralling then spinning and spiralling sound like they sort of go together better.
Ssspinning, ssspiralling … what is the effect of that repeated ‘s’ sound for the reader?
Student 4: It’s like it slows you down.
Teacher: Excellent. Remember how we’ve talked about using alliteration for intentional effect? Repeated soft initial sounds can create a completely different effect to harsh final consonants. So if you want to use a trick like alliteration, use it intentionally. Use it to slow your reader down, or to drive home a short, sharp point.
Student 2: So should we start with the s sounds, because you read them slower, and then do the t words? Then it would be like the leaves falling slowly at the start and getting faster as they fall. Teacher I think that sounds brilliant. That’s what I mean about using poetic devices intentionally. The sounds are actually reflecting the content of our poem, and they are also going to affect the way the poem is read. Let’s start with those two lines then. We can move them around later if we want to. So we’ve got [writes]: Spinning and spiralling. Tumbling, turning and twirling. Now let’s go back to our word bank. What else would we like to use? What feels like it might belong with these lines?
Student 1: I think something about ballet could go with spinning and spiralling. And the t line could be about tap dancing.
Student 5: I think the ballet bit should go after the first line. Spinning and spiralling like ballerinas. And then the tap bit after the second line.
Teacher: OK, so let’s edit to squeeze that in. Now we’ve got [writes]: Spinning and spiralling like ballerinas. Tumbling, turning and twirling, like tap dancers. What do we all think about that so far?
Student 2: I liked pirouette. Can we add that in too? Teacher Well let’s try adding that in too and see if we like how it sounds: Spinning and spiralling like ballerinas in pirouettes … Where are they pirouetting?
Student 2: Maybe across the sky?
Student 5: That sounds really good. Teacher I think so too. [Writes]: in pirouettes across the sky. Can we do something similar with the next part of the poem? Who would like to have a go? Tumbling, turning and twirling, like tap dancers …
Student 6: … tapping on the stage?
Teacher: Great. Let’s add that in too. And where is this stage?
Student 6: Um, in the playground? Teacher How’s this? [Writes]: Tumbling, turning and twirling, like tap dancers tapping on the stage of our playground. So now let’s read the whole poem aloud and see if it sounds finished. [Reads] What do we think?
Student 7: I think it’s finished. It just needs a title.
Teacher: I think it sounds fantastic! We’ve got some similes in there, some great alliteration. I like how the poem starts slowly and gets faster. You’ve done really well Year 4. Any ideas for a title?
Student 3: It doesn’t actually say anything about leaves, so should we just call it Leaves?
Student 2: Autumn leaves (other students agree)
Teacher: [Writes]: Autumn Leaves