All About Debra Bertulis
Debra is a published children’s poet and qualified and experienced Peripatetic Speech and Drama teacher, working in schools with all Key Stages to inspire a love of poetry and the spoken word.
Debra regularly conducts ‘Cluster School Writing Days’ at her permanent Outstanding Primary Academy in Worcestershire with enormous success.
Her stimulus is often (but not always) music which she has found is a fantastic tool for igniting the imagination, particularly first thing in the morning.
And being an experienced and qualified performance teacher, Debra really can take your pupils from the ‘page to the stage!’
Debra’s approach is flexible and humorous and aimed at helping pupils feel comfortable and relaxed.
Able Writers Workshops
Debra always begins the session with explaining the importance of having fun with words and that words are there to be used in lots of different ways. She will also explain that actually, there are not many rules around writing poems. This revelation normally causes quite a stir!
Pupils will hear about rhyme, rhythm and punctuation, and will also discuss literary terms such as personification, alliteration etc.
A typical morning will begin with Debra reading three or four poems to the groups.
If music is used, it may be played two or three times. This could be dramatic, emotional, peaceful. Pupils are encouraged to use their senses to imagine the colours, smells and sounds the music conjures up.
Pupils will then work on their poems, redrafting if need be, whilst Debra moves amongst them.
Pupils will volunteer to read their work aloud. They will enjoy learning basic performance tips and tuition in reading with emphasis and meaning, learning the importance of posture, pausing and projection. The self-confidence gained from this exercise really does ‘complete’ the day and can readily be called upon at any time.
*Many Schools bring along an ipad to film their pupils’ performances.
With Ofsted looking for evidence-based learning around pupils writing and performing of poetry, this is a great opportunity to capture that experience.
Debra also works with reluctant writers from Key Stage One to Four.
Debra is a published children’s’ poet and qualified peripatetic speech and drama teacher, specialising in teaching poetry writing, performance and recitation skills. This sounds serious, but her sessions are fun and interactive and will light that poetry spark in the most reluctant pupils!
Debra has taught poetry writing and poetry performance at an outstanding primary academy in Worcestershire for the past four years, where she also covered PPA with poetry lessons. Pupils are also prepared to enter local competitive festivals, organise their own poetry assemblies and compile school poetry anthologies.
A recent visit from Ofsted (2018) resulted in Debras’ work with pupils being described as ‘The most outstanding piece of collaborative work I have ever seen in a primary school.’
Debra taught speech and drama examinations at an International school for three years and also at a local Independent school before concentrating on nationwide school visits.
A recent Ofsted report of a local Primary school rated ‘Good’ noted that English performance would be even better if: ‘More emphasis was placed on opportunity for pupils to compose their own poetry instead of adapting poetry by other poets.’ Pupils in her sessions are free to write, with guidance, using their imaginations as far as possible.
*Debra has particular experience with Disadvantaged, EAL and pupils with SEND.
Debra’s School visits
Debra is able to offer a wide variety of poetry sessions, and have experience of working with all age groups and key stages. She is happy to work with whole classes.
Sessions can be tailor made in consultation with teachers.
Key Stage 1: Performance Time!
Duration: 45-60 minutes
Debra reads two or three fun action poems, one of which will be used to act out. Pupils learn to use facial and vocal expression, exaggerate movements, all culminating in an understanding of the poem.
This can be group based or whole class. Often filmed for evidence-based learning.
Learning Outcomes: Increased self-confidence, self-awareness of movement, expression and enhanced recall skills.
Materials needed: Flipchart/whiteboard and space!
Key Stage 2: From Page to Stage
Duration: At least one morning (Preferably one session before morning break and one after.)
The session begins with reading a variety of poems in different forms. Pupils are able to choose which form they would like to use.
Pupils are enabled to compose their own poetry, culminating in a class/assembly performance of their work. These are often filmed as evidence-based learning.
Learning Outcomes: Love of language, Improved speaking and listening skills, enhanced vocabulary and literacy skills, deeper understanding of poetry forms and poets, increased self-confidence and self-esteem.
TOPIC CLASS POEM Year 1 upwards
Duration: 50-60 minutes for Year 1 and 2.
Longer sessions for Years 3 upwards
Cover your class topic and poetry in one combined session!
As an ex Poetry PPA teacher, Debra found it difficult to find poems on a particular class topic, so, the class would write their own!
The finished poem is structured and informative with pupils using their knowledge of the subject as well as discovering new facts! Pupils learn the importance of teamwork as it will be worked on by the whole class in a fun, collaborative way. There has been evidence to suggest that pupils recall facts better when it is memorised in this way.
This can culminate in a class performance and filmed for evidence-based learning.
Learning Outcomes: Increased vocabulary, knowledge of class topic, self-confidence and self-esteem, performance and recitation skills and ‘camaraderie!’
Materials needed: Flip Chart/Whiteboard
Key Stage Two/Three: Let’s Recite!
Duration: Two sessions (i.e. one morning and one following morning break.)
Working on ‘The Highwayman” or similar classic poems?
Pupils will be taught key recital and performance skills. How to recite with meaning, emphasis and expression, leading to an impressive whole class performance of the poem.
Learning outcomes: Enhanced recall skills, greater depth of understanding of the poem. Improved presentation skills, including learning the importance and relevance of vocal and facial expression, pausing and projection.
This can be filmed for evidence-based learning.
Cluster School Workshop
Key Stage Two/Three
Poetry to Music
Invite your cluster schools or join up with several local schools to reduce costs, and join Debra in a fun writing workshop, using a piece of music as the spark! Pupils are then enabled to compose their own poem, imagining the colours and images conjured up by what they hear.
This culminates in each pupil reading their work (volunteers.)
Duration: One morning (9-12) or One afternoon. Mornings are best for concentrating or 2 half days.
Up to Four schools (6 pupils from each.)
Learning Outcomes: enhanced appreciation of poetry and its link with music, increased self-confidence and self-esteem, improved vocabulary, use of senses, knowledge of poetry and performance skills.
This can be filmed as evidence- based learning.
Recommendations and Reviews
“Debra Bertulis has inspired and challenged pupils at Bengeworth CE Academy to become poets, improve their articulation and expression as well as expose their imagination to the almost limitless art of manipulating language. Her relentless focus on aspirational outcomes and the delight of children and their parents at realising their potential in both creative and performance environments is testament to her ability as a teacher and tenacity as an advocate of academic excellence for all children.” David Coaché – Executive Headteacher, Bengeworth Multi-Academy Trust
‘Debra’s poems are witty, warm and wonderful and I was delighted to include a poem of hers in the anthology of funny poems I recently edited for Bloomsbury.’ Poet and Anthologist Joshua Seigal
‘How fortunate you are to have such a skilled specialist practitioner such as Debra Bertulis working within your school!’ Ofsted Inspector June 2018
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about Debra Bertulis, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org