Hey people! This is last on our poetry series. I hope it’s been worth the while. We continue from the last post. What comes next after the students are done writing their poem? Find out!
- Editing:The job now lies in your hands as the teacher. Choose whatever form of editing that suits you. You can decide to break the class into stations in the next lesson and workshop each student’s work in the station while the other groups are busy with a different assignment until you get to them, or you can take the poems home and edit, make comments and suggestions and then hand them back to the students in the next lesson for corrections. I did the latter with my students. I gave them time to effect the corrections and I answered their questions and made clarifications where need be. At this stage, encourage your students to review their lines for poetic alliance. Show them how a longer line can become shorter and how to use sound (oxymoron) for words and metaphor, simile, personification and hyperbole. Basically, ask them to do a second read of their poems (like I wrote in chapter 1 under close reading methods) and to see if they are able to point out any literary devices from their poems. If they can’t, then guide them into rewriting some of their lines to create the required effect.
- Final Poem:In the next lesson, tell your students that they will be putting the final touches to their poems. Encourage them to exchange their poems with their classmates or break them into groups for peer review. Put students who are better writers in charge of each group and watch them discuss and give constructive feedback to each other on their poems. What you are doing here as a teacher is to build students’ communication skills, team work and leadership traits. Next, tell students the date for final submission of poems and begin to make plans for your class’ poetry slam.
- Class Practice:At this stage, I had gone through all students’ poems and created a class practice schedule (this included what students will be practicing on what day). Remind the students to take the practice seriously as it’ll help them build their confidence for the slam. Let them know that a terrible performance can mar a well-written poem. Your practice in class should cover the following aspects:
To get my students to memorise their lines, I encouraged them to record themselves reciting the poems and to break their poems into stanzas using index cards and to memorise them using mnemonics. I had copies of their poems and after two or three rehearsals, I made them perform offhand with me prompting them when they miss their lines.
You must be ready as the teacher to lead by showing the students what is expected of them. So don’t hesitate taking a student’s poem and performing it in your own voice. That way, students get a clear picture of what is expected of them. Depending on the students’ poems, let them know that their voices can be mournful, cheerful, aggressive, imploring, etc. or a mixture of emotions. Teach them to use a variety of tone to avoid sounding monotonous. Also, show them more videos of professionals if you have such support. Encourage your students to practice at home, with their friends and family and remind them that a slam is a contest and they must work hard not only to get good grades, but to win themselves presents and make themselves and parents proud.
- The Poetry Slam: Ahead of this day, you should have a list of three judges whom you’re inviting for the slam. To get rid of sentiments, I invited people outside the school. Judges may not necessarily be poets or writers, but they should well versed enough to know what a good performance is. Help your students relax by assuring them that they have worked so hard and so should have nothing to worry about. Also take out the seats and desks and bring in mats and pillows to create a leisure atmosphere. Students should sit comfortably on the mats while the judges, parents, other teachers (whoever the audience is made up of) have the seats.
Poetry Slams are usually in done in different rounds, but I wanted all my students to stand a chance of winning by having just one round for ours. So if you have the luxury of time, you can have your students prepare for three poems and then have an open mic session where everyone performs and the best seven or ten (depending on class size) are selected. Those selected move on to the next round with new poems and from them, the first, second and third places are chosen. The judges reserve the rights on rules to selecting the winners. I invited writers as judges for my students so they can interact with them and talk to them about writing and other literary performances.
Ours was a successful one. My students were at first tensed, but they were able to relax and give the performances their best shot. We had poems with profound themes as migration, identity conflict, corruption, bullying, pain, betrayal, girl right, masculinity, self-esteem, violence, abduction of school girls and love. The judges, who commended the relevance and depth of the students’ poems, worked so hard to select the winner.
Perhaps my biggest win from this is that I had students who, ordinarily, wouldn’t be able to speak loudly, stand before the audience and speak up boldly on issues important to them. Also, one student fell totally in love with spoken word and is now making plans to writing more poems and contest globally in poetry slams. Why not try same approach with your students?