Suggested Questions & Activities
The idea for this lesson is to engage the students in jumping into the poetry. If you, the teacher or writer, enjoy the "out loud" of poetry then by all means jump into this lesson with a reading of Sharon Bridgforth's "Con Flama." The focus of this lesson is to explore poetry as a form of social activism, to reflect on how using voice can empower us and help promote change from the bottom up in a populist spirit of change for the greater good.
1. Ask students to brainstorm ideas that come to mind when they hear the words "POETRY," "HIP HOP," and "RAP." Talk about the different responses to each word. Find out who has attended a Poetry Slam and generate a conversation about music and spoken word performances.
2. Students read a poem in small groups and report back to the whole group: Hand out a poem from the packet, from the selected resources, or one of your choosing, to each group of four to six students.
- Each group chooses a "reporter" to tell the whole class what their group "got" or understood from the poem. The "reporter" should be willing to speak for his/her group and tell the class what the group members felt the poet was trying to express and for whom.
- Next, each small group comes up to a designated "performance space" in the classroom (often putting X's with masking tape on *the floor is very helpful to define the space) each student reads one line or phrase from the poem the group has shared out loud.
- The line should be read with expression and in an authentic voice
- The reading does not have to make sense to the rest of the class, it is far more important that the students practice conveying the flavor and emotion of the poem and that each student gets a taste of being in front of the whole group for a quick spoken word group "performance".
3. Teacher or writer presents several more poems out loud. Select one or two "populist" poems from the packet or of your own choosing that resonate deeply with you and share openly and honestly with the class why this is so. Read the poem or poems with as much dramatic expression as is natural and comfortable to you. (Maybe you are already a famous spoken word artist and the class will be thrilled—whatever your background the idea is to bring the poetry to life by reading it out loud.) Ask the class to discuss why the poem(s) is/are considered as populist poems.