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Call and response (1)
Teacher with a boy

Call and response is a simple way of encouraging
fun communication:

  • It relies on the natural poetic rhythm and flow of language;
  • It accepts that these rhythms are innate;
  • Each line is kept deliberately short and rhythmic;
  • It works best when dramatic and conveying feeling and emotion;
  • It is naturally and automatically including rather than excluding.

Call and response (2)

As an example of call and response, read
Alas, Alice, a poem by Michael Donaghy (1993).

By slightly adapting the poem, this can be 'called', with staff and children responding by repeating the first phrase of each line. It would start like this:

Alas, Alice
Who woke to crows
And woke upon the ceiling
And hung there fearing
The evening's sweeping
And looked down now
At unfinished reading
And loved the sleeping
And slept by weeping
And called out once

The words are beautiful in their rhythm and simplicity, and convey a deep sense of loss and despair.

What better way to portray sadness?

Find out more (1)
Open book

Grove, N. (2005) Ways into Literature. Stories, Plays and Poems for Pupils with SEN, London: David Fulton.

Grove, N. (2010) The Big Book of Storysharing, London: Senjit.

Grove, N. (ed) (2012) Bringing Literature to Life: Introducing a Range of Approaches for Teachers of Children with Special Educational Needs, London: Routledge.

Grove, N. and Park, K. (1996) Odyssey Now, London: David Fulton.

Grove, N. and Park, K. (2000) Developing Social Cognition through Literature for People with Learning Disabilities: Macbeth in Mind, London: Jessica Kingsley.

Find out more (2)
Open book

Park, K. (1998) Dickens for All: Inclusive Approaches to Literature and Communication with People with Severe and Profound Learning Disabilities, British Journal of Special Education.

Park, K. (2009) Mother Goose: Developing Language and Communication Skills through Drama, The SLD Experience.

Park, K. (2010) Interactive Storytelling: Developing Inclusive Stories for Children and Adults, Bicester: Speechmark.