This weekend, I had the pleasure of co-presenting with English Department Chair Shannon Janovitz at the 115th Annual New England Association of Teachers of English Fall 2017 Conference held in Mansfield/Foxboro, MA. Our workshop, titled “Raising Student Voice: Using Slam Poetry in the Classroom” focused on the ways in which teachers can utilize slam to help students generate their own questions; investigate independent topics; develop critical and conceptual thinking; and participate in the world around them with authenticity and passion.
Having advised the school’s poetry and culture club, Poetic Ramblings, for the past four years, Mrs. Janovitz and I have seen firsthand the positive impact slam poetry can have on high school students both inside and outside the classroom.
BHS junior and slam team member Julianna Grossman also spoke eloquently during the seminar about the ways in which slam poetry has helped her to grow and develop as an individual. She expertly fielded questions from teachers around New England about the potential power of slam in the classroom. “Slam Poetry gives a voice to those who can’t speak. It connects us to ourselves and others,” Grossman notes.
In addition to valuing student voice and helping students appreciate other viewpoints, the effective use of slam poetry in the classroom ties strongly to the Common Core, allowing students to read critically, write consciously, listen thoughtfully, and speak clearly in an engaging and dynamic way.