Thursday, December 04, 2008
Empire State Conference
Today for the second time I presented our Poetry Slam program to several school districts that are part of BOCES Greater Southern Tier. The Greater Southern Tier (GST) is a large region in New York State. The Empire State Conference was organized by the GST Distance Learning Service. Their mission is to provide their districts with the support and training required to locate appropriate educational video conferencing opportunities, plan implementation strategies, and support integration of distance learning across the curriculum. I truly enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with Poetry Slam. I think it is one of the most exciting and rewarding uses of videoconferencing. In our Queens district this program has impacted hundreds of student and as part of the Globalwrites network the numbers now are well into the thousands. I have blogged about poetry slam many times and hope to continue to blog about it in the future. Today was about sharing with other educators. I invited 5 members of one of last years poetry slam teams. They are part of a three year NYS Learning Technology Grant. As 6th graders they began a poetry residency that they continued last year as 7th graders and again this year as 8th gaders. There are 7 classes in all. The grant will evaluate how these students improved in their ELA scores compared to other similiar classes that did not participate in poetry slam. Today the students shared their poems and then fielded questions from the educators at the different sites. They were asked questions like: Do they think poetry has improved their writing in other areas? Will they continue to write poems after the program is over? Are the poetry slam competitions fierce or friendly? What is makes them more nervous performing a poem in front of their classmates or over a videoconference? They answered these questions and more with honesty and thoughtfulness that the adult audience recognized and complimented them on their maturity. Mostly the answers to these four questions were yes, maybe, friendly and videoconferencing. At the end of the conference I think we might have gained some new competition for future slams.