Poetry Slam

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SWBAT adapt their speech styles by performing original poetry to the class.

Big Idea

Tell us who you are!


10 minutes

To begin today, I'm going to model the difference between reading a poem and performing a poem by doing both with my I Am poem.  When you do this for your class, don't be afraid to go over the top, both with the monotony of reading and the dramatics of performing.

After I have both read and performed my poem for the class, I then open the floor for discussion.  I ask students questions like:


  • Which version was more interesting to listen to?
  • Which one held your attention and why?
  • Which one did you prefer?


At the end of our discussion, I let them know that they will now have an opportunity to perform their poem for the class.

Getting Down to Business

35 minutes

Before students begin performing their poems, we need to have some rehearsal time.  I encourage students to get into groups of 2 or 3 and to work with people they're comfortable with.  I want them to practice poetry performance and give each other useful feedback.  I will take a moment and ask for examples of what useful feedback might sound like. At this point in the year, students are very quick to explain that useful feedback would be something that would help the performer improve, like speaking up, adding emphasis, or slowing down.

I give them about 10 minutes to practice.

We then come back together as a group.

Next, we have a quick discussion about the role of the audience in poetry performance.  I ask for a show of hands for people who do not usually enjoy being up in front of the class.  Usually, this is a good number of students!  We talk about how we as the audience can make it easier on those who are not comfortable in front of the class.  Again, we are well versed at this type of activity at this point in the year, so I hope to hear things like, "look at the speaker, don't talk, applaud." 

Now, we focus on being attentive audience members as everyone takes their turn performing!


Did They Get It?

5 minutes

I like to do an exit ticket whenever students are giving presentations to the class.  It helps me know who was paying attention.  I can use this for a formative grade or to help make decisions about grades that are on the edge at the end of the year.

I put the following sentence starters up on the board:

  • I was surprised by _____
  • I was entertained by _____
  • I was inspired by _____
  • _______ was thought provoking


Their exit ticket assignment is to choose a sentence starter, complete it, and then add some evidence or cite details from a classmate's poem to support their sentence.  I am always amazed at how gracious the students are to each other when making observations.

If you have another day of class available to you, it's fun to read some of the especially complimentary ones aloud.  It's great validation for your performers!