Visualising poetry for memory. Strategy 4(c) in anthology series.

Pictures are remembered better than words. Infinitely better.

That is simply a fact. Personal experience – remembering a face but forgetting a name – tells us this, but there is no shortage of irrefutable research evidence either.

Strategies like visualisation, exemplified in the clip below, will therefore be important to us as we prepare students for the closed book anthology paper.

In this short video, students begin their exploration of Lawrence’s ‘Storm in a Black Forest’ by listening to three or four readings of the poem whilst sketching the images visualised.

Of course, some students dislike drawing and find the experience of attempting to render what they see in the mind’s eye intensely frustrating. Freeze frames avoid this problem and can also be used to promote visualisation and thereby aid memory. I used the approach recently to explore Blake’s  ‘A Poison Tree’ with a group of learners who, pre Progress 8, would probably have been entered for English only.

Their instruction was to devise a maximum of two freezes per quatrain. The students were clearly motivated by this task, determined to unlock the poem’s sometimes archaic vocabulary, discussing their interpretations and collaboratively solving the problem of how to represent these visually.

Actively creating meaning this lesson, rather than having it handed to them ready-made, I am confident that students will retain the learning. And if it does fade in the memory, then they have their video as a reminder.

 

 

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