Teaching “I wonder” by Jeannie Kirby – Idea 1

This is the first of TESLMALAYSIA’s “Lite-Fun” Series (Literature: Light and Fun).
“I Wonder” by Jeannie Kirby is one of the poems included in the new literature component and it is a very interesting poem.

On first reading, it is rather apparent that the poem seems to be a “lament” by the persona on everything around him or her. There is a strong sense of “deep thinking” and it resembles the typical “small thoughts” that we have when we’re observing our surroundings or wake up in the morning or even when we’re sitting alone, sipping our coffee at the corner of a coffee shop.

The poem is written in an “a a b b” rhyme scheme, a popular scheme used to create a “song-like” poem. In fact, some teachers have spent time changing this poem into a song, to help the students.

“I wonder” by Jeannie Kirby

I wonder why the grass is green
And why to each other we’re often mean?
Who taught us how to curse and hate?
And lead us to betray our faith?

Why can’t we learn to live and love?
And give all praises to him above
Why must we strive to put others down?
Why not wear a smile instead of a frown.

Must we forever devise new ways?
To hurt each other instead of praise?
For aren’t we all the same in his sight
Don’t we all rise in the morn and sleep at night?

For who amongst us has not shed a tear
Or hurt by another who never seemed to care.
And which of us has not done the same
To hurt another or caused some shame.

When shall we learn to let go of the past
And live each day like it’s our very last?
Which will you be, an foe or a friend?
Would you still hate today, if this was your end?

Don’t we yet know that it clouds our fate
When we ignore love and foster hate.
When hate fills your heart, it makes you blue,
For the person most hurt will always be you.

Lets rise each morning, smile and say
“Thank you God, for yet another day”
“Thanks for your love and tender care
And give me more love in my heart to share.

This poem is rather straightforward to be taught. The key here is to build up the mood or sense of emotional outburst. One way is to use the Lemon Tree song by Fool’s Garden. The song is essentially similar in terms of how the persona is expressing his or her opinion on things that “just didn’t turn out right” and the sense of disappointment and emptiness. In Jeannie’s poem, the persona laments on human’s ignorance in promoting love and peace. In the Lemon Tree, the persona laments on his long-lost love (perhaps a girlfriend).

It is often good to start a literature lesson with a song, as means to attract students’ attention and highlight salient features of a specific text. In terms of themes, always start with an easy surface theme before going deeper like in “I wonder”, tolerance and acceptance would be ultimate theme.

LEMON TREE

By Fool’s Garden

I’m sitting here in a boring room it’s just another rainy
Sunday afternoon I’m wasting my time I got nothing to do
I’m hanging around I’m waiting for you
But nothing ever happens- and I wonder

I’m driving around in my car I’m driving too fast
I’m driving too far I’d like to change my point of view
I feel so lonely I’m waiting for you
But nothing ever happens- and I wonder

I wonder how I wonder why yesterday you told me
’bout the blue blue sky and all tall that I can see is just a yellow lemon-tree
I’m turning my head up and down
I’m turning turning turning turning turning around
And all that I can see is just another lemon-tree

I’m sitting here I miss the power I’d like to go out
taking a shower but there’s a heavy cloud in side my head
I feel so tired put myself into bed where nothing
ever happens- and I wonder

Isolation – is not good for me
Isolation – I don’t want to sit on a lemon-tree
I’m steppin’ around in a desert of joy Baby anyhow I’ll get another toy and every thing will happen-and you’ll wonder
I wonder how I wonder why yesterday you told me
’bout the blue blue sky and all tall that I can see is just a yellow lemon-tree
I’m turning my head up and down
I’m turning turning turning turning turning around
And all that I can see is just another lemon-tree

In the next part, we’ll look specifically at the language features, themes as well as several other activities that can be done using this poem (lesson plans included).

This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. Ayue Ryu says:

    very, very useful..thanks for the input..i am at the moment is still lost as to where n how to intro. this new lit. component..no guidelines yet received..hope to hve more guide in this matter..

    • Miss Dee says:

      Please refer to my comments on the New Literature Component post. Ask your Head of English Panel for more details. Alternatively, you can download the CDD modules online. Teaching and learning is the same as the previous Lit component.

  2. MrPong says:

    well, thats the thing…we dont even know that we are going to use new items in the LITCOMP…

    but, i do like the new LITCOMP…more relaxing and got drama!!!

  3. shalini says:

    this did not help me… my students are beginners

    • MrPong says:

      well,…my students too…just dont over do it..

    • nurullina ain lee says:

      well, for beginners, tell them about the literary devices first…with examples. Students got the idea that literature is like Shakespeare and that scares them. Let them know that in poem, the imagination can run free because poem is about imagination with words! Get them to try to compose simple poems first and then let them read to the class and explain the meaning to their peers. Once they got hook on it, it will be the teacher’s big task to stop their free imagination from running wild!
      Hope this helps. Bye.

    • Grace says:

      Yes, I will be having the same problem next week when I introduce it. No amount of Lemon Tree is going to help. In fact, it might worsen things a little. I think that to make the kids get the poem, the teacher has to first understand it thoroughly. Only then, can he/she present it in the way most suited to the competency levels of his/her students. So, I’m going to keep surfing, see if I can read more perspectives on the poem, and get a better grasp of it before I open my mouth in class

  4. mel says:

    my students really enjoy the song very much and ask for repetition

  5. hawa says:

    why is it different from the version in the book?

  6. Psst, says:

    i wonder by jeannie kirby.. i think the poem is shorter rite?…

  7. Anastashion 12 years old says:

    I am from Ukraine.I need the biography and photo of Jeannie Kirby.Pleeeeeeease =)

  8. G.M.Sagar says:

    I have read the poem “I wonder” and it reminds me of a similar poem written by Wordsworth named “I wondered lonely as a cloud”.This poem(I Wonder) has been included in the literature component.I am a bit worried that most English language teachers do not look at poems from the language perspective.It is clearly stated in the objectives of the component that all the texts should be taught so as ” to show an awareness as to how language is being used”.The all important question that needs to be addressed is are language teachers showing or pointing out how language is manifested in the poem( or the other literary texts )so that it enhances its meaning.When you show your learners the tense,stylistic devices like pun, alliteration, metaphors or similes, they will come to understand how language has been used to enrich the meaning, thereby showing then to be aware of how language is used.
    The next tine they read another literary text,hopefully they will be able to recognize these devices and their importance in them.

    Don’t get me wrong when I say this important language
    objective has not been pointed out and language teachers are only looking at literary texts superficially.I do not blame you but the inherent fault lies in the powers that be who have not not done anything to shed light on this area of darkness.

    Using stylistics to teach/approach literary texts opens a new world of interpretation for teachers instead of the prosaic approach.It is commonly used abroad especially in third world countries among non-native speakers.It used widely in India to teach literature

    Good luck and regards
    G.M.Sagar

  9. Jung Hyun Sang says:

    Annyeong , thanks alote for the poems . Hope i can score my english poems .당신을 감사

  10. marvell0us !!!
    thanx 4 da in4, yea !!

  11. lavanyaa says:

    your poem this the best

  12. Name* says:

    any idea of how to act out the poem i wonder?

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