So, you’re intrigued by slam poetry, and you want to know how to start using it in the classroom. I get it; slam poetry is so awesome, sometimes I am intimidated by teaching it. But, the good news is that more than likely, your kids are going to love it. And when that happens, you’ve got some serious teacher power on your hands.
This lesson plan I’ve included here was part of a larger poetry unit. We had covered lots of different poetic devices through other poems, but I hadn’t shown them slam poetry as an example, yet. Throughout my units, no matter what unit it is, I try to angle the purpose as that we learn how to write so that we can change the world. I give a huge talk at the beginning of the year when I’m explaining the course about changing the world with our writing (which I hope to write about soon), and so I try to connect back to it every unit. During our fiction unit we use this idea to emphasize theme, and during our argumentative we actually had a “democracy party” this year, where if kid wrote to someone real about something real that could change, they could participate.
Another note about this lesson is that I like it to be the first slam poem that the kids see. Before showing it, I give a preview about what the poet’s topic will be, that he uses a lot of poetic devices, blah blah blah. I kid you not, every year, after I give this preview when I show the video, there are a couple black students in my room that react in surprise that the poet is black. The power of representation is strong, people. No joke. That’s one reason you might notice that my list of my favorite slam poems, I strove for a variety of races. Our kids deserve and need to see themselves in our examples of experts.
Ok, off my soap boxes. Here is the lesson plan with accompanying materials. A quick note: if you feel like your kids might need more than one slam poetry example, I did include a slide with hyperlinks to other awesome examples (and also I have a more comprehensive list of slam poem videos for the classroom here). You have the option to show the examples to the whole class, or use the slide as self-paced differentiation→ which I explain how to do here.
Ok, for real: here is the lesson plan!
Slam Poetry Day 1 Lesson Plan
- Students will be able to……..
- Come up with and start a poem about something that is meaningful to them.
- Apply techniques we’ve learned about over the last week (alliteration, rhyme, repetition, shape, similes) to enhance meaning of the poem.
- Students’ own notebooks
- Accompanying Slam Poetry Power Point
- Words to the slam poem, “Touchscreen”
- A way to show “Touchscreen” Youtube video
|Intro/Mini-lesson – 10 min|
|Do Now Slide: Question: What are 5 problems or things that you would change about the world if you could? (Explanation for kids if they need it: If you could change anything about the world, what would it be? Maybe it’s as simple as a later start time for school, or maybe it’s that you wish bullying didn’t exist, or perhaps that everyone was vegetarian. If you had the control to change one thing in the world, what would it be? Optional: show your own notebook where you made your own list.)
|Work/ Conference time – 30 min|
|Closure – 5 min|
And that’s it! A Writing Workshop Slam Poetry starter-lesson. The possibilities of where to go from here are endless. Show another slam tomorrow and write a new poem? Continue to hone the one from today? Workshop poems in groups tomorrow to add the poetic devices we’ve been talking about?
You might also be interested in:
25+ Slam Poems Appropriate for Middle School and High School–my most viewed post by far. Check it out for more ideas or put a link on your class website to let kids explore.
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!