A Tale of Three Cities: Poetry, Performance, Teamwork, Technology, Learning

This presentation at NECC 2008 is by Global Writes. The program brings a writing workshop to the classroom. The teaching artist spend several weeks in the classroom and serves as a professional poet role model in their classroom. The technology is used to bring students together to perform their poems. It’s 4-12th grade students.

Authentic assessment. They have rules for critiquing, praise and respectful criticism. Students feel safer to share because there is a careful structure for feedback.

All of the classes participate in a competition over 2 weeks; 4 sessions a day and then finals. There isn’t a fee (so far) to be in the tournament.

Students give feedback on the writing as well as their presentation of their ideas – body language, pace, gestures, spoken word.

Blogs and podcasts are used to support the writing and reading too. The SlamFam blog is used both by current students and those who have moved on and still post and comment on the work on the blogs.
In some of the cases, the younger siblings came into the class and contributed to the same blog their older siblings were posting to.

Student outcomes include improved attendance, increased motivation, increased self-esteem & self-awareness, enhanced communication and social skills. (A story of a kid who stuttered all the time except when he was performing his poems.)

Teacher outcomes include extended literacy instruction options, collaborative teaching skills, arts integration skills.

They got funding from AEMDD to do some actual research on their program. Three classes at each school studied over 3 years with 4 treatment schools and 4 control.  75% of the kids are still writing poetry. During the research grant the students jumped from 40% planning to go to college to 85% planning to go to college.

The teachers felt more skilled in teaching writing – so the program also mentors the teachers. The data is all just from the Bronx. Now they are collecting data and expanding the program to Chicago to see if the program is replicable.

They are working on creating a replicable and sustainable model.

Shivers up and down my spine while the kids recited their poetry. Incredible!!!!

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