Interested in using slam poetry examples in your classroom, but not sure which poem would best? I’ve got you.
Slam poetry is a little bit of an obsession of mine, and as a teacher that has taught grades 6-12 ELA, I’m always scrolling through slam poems to find ones that are both inspiring, awesome, and appropriate for the age group. It’s hard to keep track of which ones are and which ones aren’t, so FINALLY, here’s a list of ones that are tried and true.
If you want ideas for how to use them, check out my introduction to slam poetry lesson plan here. The lesson could be appropriate for all ages.
Looking for a Slam Poetry Unit Plan? Click here! It’s on sale!!–>
Slam poems that may be appropriate for middle or high school classrooms:
|I Want to Hear a Poem||Steve Colman||Poem demanding that people slam about what matters. Awesome wordplay and great poem to kick off slam poetry|
|Waiting for Someone||Lamar Jorden||Conversation with homeless veteran|
|Louder than a Bomb trailer||(About slam poetry competition in Chicago)|
|Times I’ve Been Mistaken for a Girl||Alex Dang||Gender Stereotypes|
|“B” (*F-Bomb warning–somewhere in the second half. May want to preview before showing)||Sarah Kay||Inspirational|
|Touchscreen||Marshall Davis Jones||Critiquing digital use–major hit, all grades|
|Bronx 6th Grader Wows Poetry Scene||Kioni “Popcorn” Marshall||Various; also talks about story of 6th grade slam poet|
|Shake the Dust||Anis Mojgani||Inspirational|
|Totally Like Whatever, You Know?||Taylor Mali||Speaking with conviction|
|Scratch and Dent Dreams||Eric Darby||Go for your dreams|
|Letter to the Playground Bully||Andrea Gibson||Overcoming bullies|
|Blink||Lamar Jorden||Answers question: Why slam?|
|“If I Should Have a Daughter..” TEDTalk||Sarah Kay||Ted Talk on TEACHING Slam Poetry|
|3 poems: 59, Paper People, and The Sunshine Kid||Henry Baker||One is a poem with number puns, and the other two are inspiring poems about the world. Great for teaching personification and alliteration|
|White Boy Privilege||Royce Mann||White student examining his own privilege. Words for “White Boy Privilege”|
Depending on your school, these next one might be a little intense, inappropriate, or advanced for middle school. BUT, all are definitely grounds for high school, and definitely still awesome:
|To This Day||Shane Koyczan||Bullying. I’ve used this for Socratic Seminar before|
|Cody||Nova Venerable||Relationship to brother with Special X|
|Knock Knock||Daniel Beaty||Systemic oppression and losing a parent|
|Poet Breathe Now||Adam Gottlieb||Writing/how to write/importance of poetry|
|Rigged Game||Dylan Garity||Problems with education|
|LeBron James||Nate Marshall||LeBron James fandom|
|Please Resist Me||Luka Lesson||Multiculturalism and discrimination|
Definitely inappropriate for my middle school, though they blow me away. Perhaps ok for high school:
|Direct Order||Anis Mojgani||Inspirational–great for similes. I actually have used this for 6th grade, taking out a few choice parts|
|The Impotence of Proofreading||Taylor Mali||The importance of proofreading your work|
|Counting Graves||Steinmenauts at Louder than a Bomb||Gun and drug violence–POWERFUL|
|Shooter||Lamar Jorden||School shootings from the perspective of a shooter|
This is just a start, but please, comment with more suggestions! I’m always looking for more!
Want some more help teaching slam poetry? I’ve got you covered. Check out these other resources:
You might also be interested in:
If you haven’t grabbed your Slam Poetry Unit Plan yet, what are you doing? Seriously, it’s on sale now, go grab it! 166 pages of slam poetry goodness that your students won’t just love, but grow in all those meaningful, I-am-powerful-hear-me-roar ways. Go get it, go get it!
Like the idea of using slam poetry in the classroom, but not ready for 3 weeks of it? This Slam Poetry Mini-Unit takes students through brainstorming, drafting, planning, and performing a meaningful slam poem, all in ONE week. It’s the perfect chunk of lessons to add slam poetry into a poetry unit, or to fill a week with engaging, meaningful content for students.
You’d probably also like this Peer Conference/Feedback lesson plan. It’s good to use for ANY type of writing and designed to lift both student’s academic conversations and writing. Swoon.
Looking for more ways to celebrate and publish student work at the end of your units? Check out my post with a list of OVER 50 ideas you could do with your students to publish their writing. Why not hand over the list to them and let them pick?
Also these FREE resources:
Want to get your feet wet? Try this Slam Poetry Day One: Speak Your Truth for free. It’s the perfect lesson to kick off your poetry or slam poetry unit with a meaningful bang.
20 Ways to Help Reluctant Writers in your Classroom–a list of ways you can make your classroom more friendly to students reluctant to write, as well as trouble-shooting ideas for students who refuse to write.
How to Teach Students to Own that Speech–a lesson plan I’ve also adapted for teaching Slam Poetry, this is the perfect lesson before your slam poetry competition.
Teaching Writing Pinterest Board–My spot to collect all the most useful resources I can find for teaching writing–if you like this post, you’re sure to like this collection.
ELA Resources Pinterest Board–A collation of engaging, best-practice resources for ELA teachers.
My Teachers Pay Teachers Store–If you liked this, you’re sure to like resources in my store. I’ve taught writing for grades 6, 7, 8, 10, and 12, so teaching writing is my store’s specialty!
Katie saysMarch 30, 2017 at 10:43 am
Love your suggestions! Below are some others I use.
21 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LnMhy8kDiQ
To the boy who may someday date my daughter
I wanna hear a poem
S for lisp (language; skip 1:17-1:28; s-word at 2:35)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GvTLfV8fls (parts have to be skipped for appropriateness.
Jeanne Wolz saysMarch 30, 2017 at 5:36 pm
Awesome, Katie–I hope they are useful! And thanks so much for sharing those. Can’t wait to watch and add to the list!
mcgeewh1 saysApril 9, 2017 at 5:59 pm
Thank you so much for this list! These offerings will definitely inspire my 8th graders. I’ve also used this one: A Muslim and Jewish girl’s bold poetry slam
Jeanne Wolz saysApril 9, 2017 at 7:52 pm
Thank YOU for the new poem; I will definitely check it out. And I’m so glad! Thanks for reaching out!
Kim Merkle saysApril 26, 2017 at 12:08 pm
Here’s some I’ve used:
Somewhere in America (group slam)
Jeanne Wolz saysMay 4, 2017 at 7:47 pm
Awesome–thanks for the share! I will check those out!
Timeka Ross saysApril 10, 2018 at 9:21 am
Great resources shared. Truly appreciative.
Jeanne Wolz saysApril 10, 2018 at 10:03 am
I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed them! I hope they can be useful for you.
David Greek saysApril 13, 2018 at 9:28 am
Adam K. saysApril 20, 2018 at 6:59 am
Hello! This list and your unit has been SUPER HELPFUL! From the Louder than a Bomb film, Nate Marshall – ‘LOOK’ is fantastic. I think one bad word, but the tonal change halfway through is amazing.
Jeanne Wolz saysApril 20, 2018 at 7:42 am
Adam—thanks so much for the feedback! It makes my day to hear! And thanks for the tip on “Look”—I’m always looking for more. Nate Marshall is awesome. I’ll check it out and may add it to my slam poetry email list. Thanks again!
Nikki saysMay 10, 2018 at 3:23 pm
F bomb warning on White Privilege would be good:) (though it is a wonderful poem)
Teresa Blanton saysSeptember 1, 2018 at 4:44 pm
Biracial Hair by Zora Howard and High School Training Ground by Malcolm London are also good.
Sarah saysNovember 4, 2018 at 9:04 am
Check out Day Two by Kevin Burke. Blows me away every time I hear.