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.
Slam poems that may be appropriate for middle or high school classrooms:
|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 next steps in using them in your classroom?
I’ve got a Slam Poetry Day 1 lesson plan here.
And I would never have kids perform slam poetry without first doing a variation of this speech marathon lesson plan here.