Thursday, October 21, 2010

Text by Carol Ann Duffy

I tend the mobile now
like an injured bird.

We text, text, text
our significant words.

I re-read your first,
your second, your third.

look for your small xx,
feeling absurd.

The codes we send
arrive with a broken chord.

I try to picture your hands,
their image is blurred.

Nothing my thumbs press
will ever be heard.


  1. Possible lesson plan:

    Level: Sec 2
    Duration: 45 minutes
    Topic: Carol Ann Duffy’s Text
    Prior knowledge: Modern communication – instant messaging, e.g. texting (SMS-ing), Tweeting
    Learning outcomes: At the end of the lesson, students will be able to explain what makes the poem effective and its statement on modern communication.
    Resources: ICT (if available).


    Pre-activity (10 minutes)
    • Students are asked to write down, as interestingly as possible, in 120 characters or less (Twitter-style), what is on their mind (Facebook-style).
    • They will then share their ‘status updates’ with the class, as a kind of measurement of ‘classroom climate’. ICT could be used for this.

    Main activity (30 minutes)
    • (10) The class is divided into groups. Each group is given slips of paper with the stanzas on it. The groups are given these instructions: “You are given 7 slips of paper. Each piece contains lines from a poem about SMS-ing, or texting. Take some time to go through each of them as a group. Rearrange them in a sequence most meaningful to you.”
    • (5) The groups share their rearranged poems with the class. The main question here to ask students is how and why they decided on the particular stanza to (start and) end the poem with, and the significance of that (beginning or) conclusion.
    o Teacher takes the opportunity to listen to how students interpret certain stanzas, or why they prefer one stanza to another, while invoking the main idea of each individual stanza.
    • (5) Teacher shows the class the original poem and reads it aloud. The rest of the class is asked to pay attention to the rhyme scheme.
    o Students are asked – which stanza is the odd one out? Rhyme-wise, it is the stanza ending with the phrase ‘broken chord’. For this stanza, the main idea is broken communication and the way it is conveyed through the abrupt aberration.
    • (5) Teacher looks at the first stanza and asks students why ‘injured bird’ is used. Students are asked to imagine and act out how they would tend to an injured bird in their hand. Then they are directed to the main idea of this stanza, which is how we tend dearly to our mobile phones.
    • (5) Then, students are asked to explain how the brevity of each stanza illuminates a significant communicative point. They should focus on the stanzas that have not been talked about so far. E.g. ‘We text, text, text / our significant words’ → the feverish, repetitive obsession with texting. This should not take long, since they are already familiar with the stanzas.

    Conclusion (5 minutes)
    • Review and recap. Instruct students, “Write, in 120 characters or less, what you think this poem is trying to say.” After they have done so, they should post it up on the class blog or Facebook group.

    • Comparison of different modes of communication – get them to write real pen-and-paper notes and compare with texting.

  2. I just found this , it feels like a good companion to the Facebook poem you recently posted. Thanks!!!