Lesson plan for Y7
What is freedom?
Is it Leisure? Idle hours? One’s own time? Choice?
Is it exemption, right, liberty, unrestraint or scope? Is it elbow room? Or free rein? Is it power?
This resource explores ideas of FREEDOM using interactive lesson starter, discussion of the poem ‘Invictus’ and expressive writing. This lesson covers curriculum requirements for key stage 2/3, investigating language features including personification, metaphor, simile, repetition and possessive pronouns. Lesson zooms in on possessive pronouns and ideas of personal freedom. Ideal for Year 7.
Below are listed words connected with FREEDOM. Divide the class into five groups and hand out markers and plain cards. Each group should be given a list of words and share the task of writing out their words on separate cards and then spend 5 minutes passing them round and discussing the meaning of the words with each other. In each group there is a word which does NOT mean freedom. They need to identify this word.
After five or so minutes, each group should agree on the word/phrase is their BEST word for ‘freedom’, then appoint a speaker to stand up and tell the class why they have chosen this word. They also tell the class which word does NOT mean freedom. Then all the class sit down in their seats.
LESSON STEP 1
Teacher hand out copies of ‘Invictus’ (1875) by William Earnest Henley to every pupil.
Written on the whiteboard is ‘Invictus’ by William Earnest Henley. Teacher explains that it was the favourite poem of Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned on Robbin Island for 27 years. He was a political prisoner. Teacher plays Youtube video of Morgan Freeman reciting Invictus (whole video as there is some explanation).
Invictus by William Earnest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Unpick the poem as a class - ideas for discussion:
Notice the rhyme
Language features:first person perspective, repetition, metaphor (‘horrors of the shade’ ie. Death), simile (black as the Pit), personification (‘menace of the years’)NB. Discuss whichever language feature is relevant to age of class/term teaching plan.
What do these words and phrases mean: ‘unconquerable’, ‘bludgeonings’, ‘unbowed’, ‘the menace of the years’, ‘charged with punishments the scroll’?
How does the poem make the pupils feel?
Finally, what do the pupils now think the word ‘invictus’ means?
Why did Nelson Mandela say this to himself every day? (Because although he was imprisoned, he could own his own thoughts). Discuss use of personal pronoun and possessive pronoun create strong ideas of individual freedom.
LESSON STEP 2
After the discussion, ask all the pupils to write for 10 minutes to the prompt - FREEDOM. They can write anything they like! There should be enough ideas swilling around in their heads by now. They may write a story, a poem or an anecdote. Perhaps a lament or a command. If any pupils are stuck, tell them to start each line ‘I am’, or ‘My’. As in “I am not allowed to play in the street but I want to” or ‘I am able to walk alone to school” or “I am the youngest and nobody listens to what I say!” or “I am free to play”. “I am not free to wear my own clothes”. “I am as free as the panther in the woods”, or ‘My thoughts are my own”. This exercise is to encourage freedom of the imagination and personal expression.
LESSON STEP 3
Ask if anyone wants to read out what they have written.
LESSON STEP 4
Finish the class by all the pupils reading ‘Invictus’ out loud together. It is empowering! Set the homework task of learning it by heart and reciting it at an assembly. Another task might be turning their personal writing into a poem at home.