Poetry Lesson Plan 1: Using a Poetry Slam to Teach the Mechanics of Poetry
Subject: Language Arts, Technology
Estimated Duration: One-two weeks
III. Materials Needed
V. Classroom Assessment
VI. Extensions and Adaptations
VII. Relevant Standards
A poetry slam is a competition in which poets get up in front of the audience, perform an original poem and receive "Olympics" style scores from a group of judges. This lesson plan brings the excitement of a poetry slam to the classroom.
This lesson plan will involve
students in defining, composing, practicing, performing and judging poetry.
It will help them realize that poetry is a living art form-- not just
words on a page. Once students are introduced to various poetry devices,
techniques, and forms, they are exposed to the origin, rules, judging,
performance skills, and scoring involved in a poetry slam competition.
...practice and become familiar
with writing poetry in many forms.
1. Introduce the lesson: by explaining the concept of a poetry slam. (You can get the basics from Extra's Poetry Page on the Spoken Word.)
2. Help students choose
a role: Since not everyone will be required to perform, it's important
for students to have a sense of what their role will be. Hang signs in
three corners of the room. The signs will read: "listening",
"reading", and "doing". Then ask students to think
about which one of these three words describe the way they relate to the
world. Caution them about peer pressure and encourage them "to know
their own heart." When they have decided, ask them to stand in the
Take note of where students are. Point out to the students that this may say a lot about how they feel about poetry. "Listeners" might enjoy poetry by reading it aloud, hearing the author or someone else read and interpret the poem, or listening to the lyrics of songs. "Readers" might enjoy poetry as a private experience or by reading it out loud to someone else. "Doers" might like to write and perform poems.
Use the above information to motivate students toward a suitable role in the slam. The teacher should make it clear that not every student has to read a poem (although you'll need about six willing students to make for a lively slam).
3. Cover poetry devices and forms: Direct students to Extra's "Rules, Tools and Forms" Use this page to start a discussion on the definition of a poem.
4. Poetry writing (individual
or group): It's now time for students to try their hands at
a poem. Allow them to choose a theme such as love, pets, or friendship
and challenge them to write at least three short poems on the same subject
using three different forms. In some classrooms, students might feel more
comfortable writing poems with other students. You might suggest this
online rhyming dictionary as a tool: http://rhyme.lycos.com/.
6. Writing a performance poem: Students are now ready to write their own performance poem, even if they don't plan to take part in the slam. They might be broken into small groups to practice. By the end of this section you'll need to get at least six students to volunteer to take part in the slam.
7. The slam: A class session will be used for the poetry readings. Students will judge the poets numerically as Olympic ice skaters are judged. Students will be judged from "0" to "10". These numbers will be placed on cards for the five randomly chosen (student) judges to hold up. Another student will average these and keep an official score card. The teacher may decide on prizes for the winner.
8. Getting published: All
students should be encouraged to submit their poems for publication on
Extra's poetry page. Click on the pen icon above the words "submit
V. Classroom Assessment:
Students will receive instruction and discuss what they might expect from a well performed and/or written poem. An evaluation sheet could be drawn from the suggestions and expectations of students.
Grades should not be based on the final scores of the poetry slam. Grades could be based on effort and poetry written in class as a result of the practice, reviewing, and honing of skills prior to the competition.
V. Extensions and Adaptations
Students could hold their "poetry slam" class meeting in a local restaurant or coffee shop.
Students could attend/participate
in an actual poetry slam. (Check the links above to find poetry slams
in your area.)
Local Poet Laureates or other
writers could be invited to speak, or even to listen and comment on the
Students could create a classroom
VII. Relevant National Standards
Demonstrates competence in
general writing skills and strategies.
Return to NewsHour Extra Poetry Site