Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Poetry Slam 2009

It is hard to pick a sample of this years poetry slam since so many of our students did such an outstanding job of writing and performing their poetry. The young poet in the video exemplifies the flavor and talent that our students exhibited in the nine virtual slams we had last week. The culmination of slam was an "Open Mic" which gave our young poets a chance to perform in front of their peers "live". The Poetry Slam program which I have been involved with for five years is a poetry writing and performance residency that takes place in the classroom over a ten week period. During this residency a slam team is chosen. The slam team consists of 5 members and 2 alternates. This team then goes on to slam using videoconferencing technology. The competition is with other schools. This year our teams slammed with other students in Queens and the Bronx. Two of NYC five boroughs. This program has expanded to other cities as well. Chicago has a Poetry Slam program. To learn more about the program go to Globalwrites.
For the past three years I was able to fund this program through a generous New York State Learning Technology Grant. I wrote the grant for three schools. The middle school where I work as a technology coordinator, another middle school in my district and a Catholic School. One of the grant requirements was to have a non public partner. The idea behind the grant was to follow classes from 6th grade through 8th grade and to see how their poetry developed. This was the last of the three years. Most of the students were now 8th graders and they had been writing and performing poetry for three years. It is wonderful to see the student develop their poetry and performance over the years. To see students who are shy find their voice and build their confidence.
Over the years that I have been involved with poetry slams I have seen teachers and schools continue poetry slams even when there was no money to pay a residency. The program is just that rewarding. This year I added an ASK style videoconference with a Kahlil Almustafa, a poet and author who wrote a book of poetry called "Growing Up Hip Hop". I blogged about it in my previous post. Also, this year our some of our students performed for the community at the Queens Botanical Gardens. As much as I love the technology of videoconferencing our poetry through slams, I also love the different ways our students have gotten to share their poetry. In fact this year we printed all our students poems in an anthology "Written and Revealed: Youth poems from the 7 train". That is the subway train that connects our schools. A common thread among many that our young poets share.