I learned about this particular poetry style in one of our classes at university. I think it was based on this book in case you are interested in reading more or finding examples.

This was my lesson plan for Remembrance Day last year in my Grade 8 English class. Although Remembrance Day was yesterday (or Veteran’s Day in the USA) I think this would still be a powerful lesson for your students this week – Or adapt it to fit a social studies unit!

Poems for Two Voices – An Introducation

These poems are written in three columns that have been spaced out. Each of the outside columns represents a different speaker and the inside column is words/phrases that are said by both speakers. There are a few examples in the book mentioned above and I’ve made up a few of my own with classes. I usually introduce these poems by having the class read one together – half represent one voice, half the other, and we all read the middle together. It is very powerful when you hear everyone come together for the middle lines.

Remembrance Day Activity

After I introduced the poetry style we spent some time talking about the different views we could take to write a poem for Remembrance Day. The students did a great job at coming up with a variety of different people from whom they could write with a (relatively) accurate perspective.

Some examples to help guide your class discussion:

  • Child in Canada now/Child during the war
  • War Veteran/Young Soldier
  • Young Soldier/Mother or Father of Young Soldier
  • Soldiers on either side of a war (takes some talk about respecting both sides)

And there are of course many more examples you can come up with – My class was very multicultural and some students took on viewpoints in regards to their heritage (e.g. Korean War). I really enjoyed seeing the different ideas that my class came up with.

Once we had a list of ideas they got to work on their poems and then we had time to share them aloud at the end. Here is one of my favourites from the day:

Poems For Two Voices-page-001

PDF Version: Poems For Two Voices

Extensions:

When I do this project again with students I will take more time to develop the poems and allow for editing and final drafts. I think that this would be a very powerful read aloud during a Remembrance Day Assembly.

This assignment could easily be adapted to fit many different Social Studies units as well as other subjects (there is an example poem in the book about Ice Bergs and Polar Bears that directly relates to environmental studies).

I would love to hear how you end up using this lesson – Leave a comment below!

Meaghan