Over the last three weeks, our Year 6 students have been exploring Alfred Noyes’ classic narrative poem The Highwayman. The poem is about a highwayman - a robber, who steals from travellers and his lover, Bess. The poem focuses on the lives of these two main characters, their love for one another and their deaths. From this work, the children have learned the language features and structure of a ballad.
The students were inspired by the poem’s characters and intrigued by the narrative plot. The story also taught them to bring the learning to life and offer the children a new learning experience, the students were challenged to collaborate in groups of 3-4 and perform parts of the poem.
To support this learning they were taught a range of dramatic conventions. Last week, it was a privilege to be in the audience for the stage performances. It has been a long time since the school stage hosted performers. We proudly watched our students use the character strength of courage to help them perform. Their performances were fantastic; excellent delivery of speech and clever actions to entertain all. The task was especially challenging due to the wearing of masks and the students should be credited with their ability to adapt to the current SOPs.
When reflecting with the students about their learning from this unit of work they told us:
“Although it was really nerve-wracking at first because I was singing on my own, it was also really fun and I loved performing it.”
“We made everything ourselves so we had ownership of the performances and some of us even played instruments and had to learn to play the music ourselves!”
At Alice Smith, we hope to develop confidence in all our students and through opportunities such as performance poetry, this will be achieved.
The concept of a highwayman has been made accessible to even our youngest students through Julia Donaldson’s The Highway Rat. Why not take the time to watch the animation or borrow this book from our library to get a feel for the performance element of the classic poem that inspired this learning.
Year 6 Leader