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Wrap-up: Poetry/Spoken Word Slam

  1. Have your students come up with one word which comes to mind when they think about the documents they've read and the video they watched today.
  2. Pass out chalk/dry erase markers/markers and have as many students as possible write up their words on the board or butcher paper. If you have time you can create a graffiti wall instead. Rather than adding one word each, invite students to freely write and draw their responses to the documents and video, and then circle key words and images to use in the next part of the activity.
  3. With students' input, choose five words from the list that you think are evocative (without being too provocative).
  4. Have your students write a poem/short story/spoken word piece about the tensions that arose between blacks and Jews at the end of the 1960s. Whatever they write must include the five words from your list, (which remain up on the board/paper). Each student should be prepared to perform their work in a Class Poetry/Spoken Word Slam. (For more information about Slams and conducting one in your class, you may want to check out the following web sites: www.poetryslam.com, www.spokenword.org, www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/02/lp262-04.shtml, and youthspeaks.org/word/)
  5. At the end of the Poetry/Spoken Word Slam, you may want to discuss with your class the issues of cultural appropriation. The idea of poetry slams and the type of poetry often performed at such events is based on African American poetry styles. Poetry Slams and Spoken Word Slams have become incresingly popular among teens and young adults of all backgrounds. Here are a few questions for discussion:
    • What kinds of cultural influences do we see in the Poetry Slam or other parts of our everyday life?
    • Where do these cultural influences come from?
    • What does this have to do with race? What does this have to do with power?
  6. Options for your Poetry/Spoken Word Slam:
    1. Depending on time, students may write their poetry/short story/spoken word in one class session and perform at the poetry/spoken word slam during the next class.
    2. Consider making, or having your students make, a Poetry/Spoken Word Slam banner that can be hung in your classroom when you hold the Slam.
    3. Consider inviting other classes and/or parents to attend your Poetry/Spoken Word Slam.
    4. Consider having students judge each others performances based on criteria you provide.
    5. Consider inviting other teachers to judge the students' performances based on criteria you provide.
    6. Students may write their poetry/short story/spoken word in class or as a homework assignment.
    7. Consider using the Poetry/Spoken Word Slam as a transition into the lesson Growing Tensions: Part II, which deals with Affirmative Action.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Wrap-up: Poetry/Spoken Word Slam." (Viewed on October 30, 2014) <http://jwa.org/node/11991>.

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