Spoken Word Poetry

Students will listen to, read, and analyze various spoken word poems in order to identify literary devices used and use the same in their own poems.


Learning Outcome

. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

·  Introduce claim(s), acknowledge alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically

·  Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.

· Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama

· Introduce claim(s), acknowledge alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.

·   Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to the development of the ideas.

·  Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and link to and cite sources as well as to interact and collaborate with others, including linking to and citing sources.

·  Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.

·  Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or sect

· Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.

· With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.

· Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence

·  Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation

Course Breakdowns

Lesson 1 — Three minute rapid writing activity about poetry. What is it? What is not poetry? What is spoken word poetry?

Discussion on the responses.

Lesson on denotation and connotation and why connotation is important in poetry

Read Distribute Bob Holman’s “Praise Poem for Slam: Why Slam Causes Pain and Is a Good Thing” and read with the class:  Complete a KWL chart on Slam poetry.

Watching two different poems performed while reading the transcripts to add to KWL chart. Discussion about elements noted.

Referring back to the “Praise Poem for Slam”, there are many references to people, places, and events with which students will be unfamiliar.  Ask them, either during class time in a computer lab or at home for homework, to Google search each of the words/names in the poem that they don’t know, making notes around the margins of the poem.   Students should also search for some information about Bob Holman who authored this poem.

For homework – denotation and connotation, research, fill in the rest of learned

Talk about form and content in poetry – https://study.com/academy/lesson/form-meaning-in-poetry.html

Read- “Easter Wings” George Herbert and” Stopping By the Woods On a Snowy Evening  “ by Robert Frost highlighting the connotations of words.

Lesson 2– Voice. What is voice?  (literal and figurative) Watch Shane Koyczans poem and discuss voice further.

Find all the literary elements they can in this poem. Give example of them found throughout the poem. Discuss theme. How was the theme created in this poem? What is the major theme and other themes found in the poem?  Find the images created in the poem and the figurative language.

  • Use of concrete language
  • Repetition
  • Rhyme
  • Attitude
  • Persona
  • Performance
  • Memorization
  • Figurative language
  • Symbols

Adding voice using figurative language

Writing- Brainstorm a list of topics that would show your voice

Free write- identify different parts of your identity and what makes it up

Lesson 3 – After watching the video, evaluate how Shane Koyczan uses posture, eye contact, projection,

enunciation, facial expression, and gestures during his performances. How do these affect his


Read the poem, Touchscreen, analyze the elements, especially repetition

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama.  Lesson on rhyme scheme, internal and external rhyme scheme as found in The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe – https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-a-rhyme-scheme-definition-examples-quiz.html


Lesson 4 – Poetry Writing Exercises –

Lesson on word choice (imagery) to create meaning https://study.com/academy/lesson/imagery-in-poetry-definition-examples-types.html


Sharing of responses to poetry writing exercises.

Early brainstorming for their own poems.

Lesson 5 – If I Should Have a Daughter by Sarah Kaye https://prezi.com/yhbdbx0b8qba/if-i-should-have-a-daughter-by-sarah-kay/

Watch and read transcript. Discuss

Lesson on Allusion .

Review all poems and find how they all began. How can they begin their poems?

Do writing activity of this together with partners. Quick write – poem based on allusion.

Lesson 6- Assumption activity – writing to use as a possible idea for poem.

Public speaking lesson and vocabulary

Reading a poem out loud – students will find a poem and read out loud (any poem of their choice)

Lesson on line breaks and enjambment.

Watch Shake the Dust by Anis Mojgani –

Talk about story telling criteria of spoken word poem

Character – what lines of the poem really show us who the speaker is and what he’s all about?

Time and Place – what lines of the poem give us a sense of where and when?

Action – what lines of the poem show the most physical action and description of physical events?

Obstacles and Conflict – what lines of the poem show you the “problem” the character is wrestling with?

Point of View – what lines of the poem give us insight into the character’s perspective?

Crisis – what line of the poem is the point of most tension and point of no return?

Bull’s Eye – what line of the poem is the “punchline” where whole poem hits its target?

Continue this with the poem “Be careful what you ask for”.  Story telling analysis chart

Lesson 7 – Give students an organizer to take notes while they screen the various examples of spoken word poems.  The organizer will prompt students to identify the poet’s primary purpose (inform, persuade, entertain), the overall message (the point of sharing the poem), and the techniques used to make it both a strong poem and a strong performance.  Students should record ideas from these examples that will help them plan what to do (what possibly what not to do) when they deliver their slam.

Classical Poetry – IF by Rudyard Kipling, discuss the idea of manifestos. What is a manifesto? Read many different kind of manifestos and discuss what they include.

Discuss the rhyme scheme and couplets , use IF to create modern couplets.  Pre-writing for their own manifesto

Lesson 8 —  Compare and Contrast two poems – I hear America Singing and I too by Langston Hughes.

Lesson 9 — Learning about speeches

1.Finding ethos, pathos and logic appeals in 3 speeches that will be read in class. Reading of I have a Dream by martin Luther King,

2. Look at I the structure of the text

“I Have a Dream,” by Martin Luther King, Jr.

How does King organize his speech? How does each section advance his argument?


1. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting

details and ideas.

2 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text

relate to each other and the whole.

Speaking & Listening:

3 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners,

building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively

First draft of poem

Lesson 10

1. I have a dream –  “I Have a Dream,” by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Identify the metaphors that you find most compelling to King’s argument. Explain each metaphor

and what you find most compelling about it given his argument, purpose, and audience

2.Looking back at all the spoken word poems and classical poems to finish the chart – Awesome phrases and poetic devices

Second draft

Lesson 11 – How to end my poem. Students will look at the poems again to find ways they can end their own. Discussing what elements they have out into their poem. Practice of reading one of the poems they have read aloud to the class using public speaking elements.

Lesson 12 – Speech, (I Have a Dream) – Finding the allusion in Kings speech

Practice performance of poems, feedback and how to improve

Lesson 13 — Second performance of poem and feedback from class, discussion

Lesson 14 —  “I Have a Dream,” by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Study King’s use of repetition. What does he repeat and for what purposes? How does his use of

repetition link to and advance his argument?

Revise poems to add in repetition

Lesson 15 – final sharing of poems and feedback



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