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How to Write an Eddic Lesson Plan from Book a Poet Ltd.
Eddic verse is a form of poetic style popular with the Vikings. It was simple in content and style and usually the subject of the Eddic verse was heroes or mythological creatures and folklore. One of the greatest stories surviving from Viking times is ‘Beowulf’ – the story of the warrior who fights the beast Grendel and then Grendel’s mother, before ruling in peace over his kingdom for some years. This is disturbed by a dragon who terrorises the kingdom, looking for the thief who woke it from its 300-year sleep. Beowulf, now an old man, dies and is given a hero’s funeral, to Valhalla he sails. A great book that re-tells this epic tale for modern times is ‘Beowulf - Dragonslayer’ by Rosemary Sutcliff. Read this to your pupils in advance. On the day of this lesson draw 3 columns on the board and write Simile, Metaphor, Alliteration as the column headings.
Tell the class that they are going to write a poem called an Eddic. Beowulf is the subject of our Eddic, but you can choose a different hero, myth or legend to focus on, or let your pupils choose their own subject matter.
Main Teaching Activity
Explain to your class what alliteration, metaphors and similes are. Using the column headings on the board, write an example under each headings and then encourage your class to suggest further examples. Can your pupils explain to you what a hero is and what makes that person a hero? Next discuss Beowulf as a hero (or your chosen Eddic subject matter) and what other ideas and suggestions the pupils come up with. Can your pupils provide an example of a simile, metaphor and alliteration for Beowulf the warrior? (E.g. Simile: Beowulf is like a castle, protective, grand, powerful and strong. Metaphor: Cruelty and punishment were not friends of Beowulf. Alliteration: Beowulf battles and grapples with Grendel.) Ask your pupils to suggest further examples. Finally, working with the class, create a list of adjectives that describe a hero and write them on the board.
Your pupils are now ready to write their own Eddic verse.
This activity takes 5-10 minutes. Pupils need to work in pairs or small groups. In turn they are to read their poem to their partner or group. Their partner or group needs to provide feedback; we suggest what they like about the poem and how they think the poem could be improved.
To challenge more able pupils by providing a list of adjectives that need to be included in the poem. You can also set them the subject matter they have to write about, another hero or mythical character to Beowulf.
With less able or young pupils ask them to write a modern Eddic, so the poem can be about someone they look up to as a hero. Set them key words to be used in their work. Should you wish to you can put pupils in pairs or small groups so they can write a collaborative poem.
This lesson plan is approximately a one-hour activity. You will need to allow additional time if you wish to read or learn more about Beowulf. You can extend the activity by asking pupils to re-draft and illustrate their poems. You can also reduce the time of this lesson by asking pupils to write their poem as homework once the introductory work has been completed in class.
© Copyright Lynsey Evans, Book a Poet Ltd. www.bookapoet.co.uk.