Saturday, May 23, 2009

Poetry and Drama in general

Just a note to say how truly wonderful I think it is to play with poetry. I had so much fun yesterday at Maple Grove working with Grade Six and Seven students on poetry. I think of how Anka in the book, I am Furniture, finds voice through playing volleyball and I think some of our quieter students can find voice working with poetry orally. Several years ago I was amazed by having an artist in residence, an actress who was able to help create an amazing drama using a single poem with my class. I have always kind of loved creative drama and tried to bring it into my teaching but one of my most amazing teaching experiences was again working with a drama facilitator who used Theatre of the Oppressed with my sixth graders to really understand poverty, our unit in Social Studies. I just couldn't believe the focus it gave my students and how doing this enabled them to quickly put together excellent skits on just about anything. Attending a couple of workshops with the amazing Sara Holbrook I began really playing with poetry slams. I am a great fan of Sheree Fitch's amazing tongue twisters and twice was fortunate to have her spend time in my class where my students presented her with a wide variety of responses to her poems in a variety of ways. I love giving away poems to students and seeing what they can do with them. A fun resource for teachers is the book she has written with Larry Schwartz, The Poetry Experience.
Another great experience was doing a couple of workshops on improvisation with Katherine S. McKnight and Mary Scruggs, authors of The Second City Guide to Improvisation in the Classroom. Using poetry and drama make for a wonderful way to bring oral language into the classroom. Students begin to find comfort in front of others.
Angelica's class at Maple Grove are a quiet group, hesitant to speak in the whole group, but after two periods of playing with poetry, they asked for more.
And now for an advertisement, I am giving a one day summer institute on poetry and drama at the end of August at the VSB. I promise lots of fun and resources. Just click the professional development link on the left side and you should be able to find all the details.

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