‘Praise Song for My Mother’
The aim of this task is to encourage students to write creatively using some of the ideas from ‘Praise Song for My Mother’ before reading the poem as a way of helping sensitising students to its ideas and language.
The task could be developed by asking students to give feedback to one another on their work, and the most able or creative could be asked to redraft, then analyse and explain aspects of their work.
1. Model brainstorming the levels of meaning and association in a common symbol e.g. star. Try to draw out the difference between universal symbols, any with more personal significance, and those that have culturally specific meanings.
2. Ask students whether a mother or parent could be a ‘star’ to their child? You may want to model (now or after step 4) using these ideas to write a stanza of the poem, or work collaboratively as a class to write a stanza, or ask students to work in pairs to write a short stanza and share some with the class. This will help prevent all students from following the same format as the teacher model.
3. In pairs or small groups, ask students to repeat this task using A3 paper, choosing the symbol of water, moon and/or sunrise.
4. Encourage students to work in pairs or small groups to feedback and add ideas, or use the ‘circuit training’ technique to get students really engaging with the work produced. Try to display outcomes so that everyone has access to the ideas.
5. Share ideas about what hopes a mother or father might have for their child. What goals might s/he want it to achieve? What lessons or values might s/he want to teach it? (This will inform the final stanza of the poem.)
6. Students could move onto writing their own poem, either using the poem frame, or their own ideas.
7. Finish the activity with peer review and feedback. This could...