Poetry Performance

I had never heard of a TV show called Def Poetry Jam until today, but I’ve been seeing clips from that show for years without knowing what they were from. I originally started writing this post to talk about the SpokenPoetryTV Youtube channel, but I’ve been looking up info about Def Poetry Jam instead. It’s an old show; it went off the air in 2007. The history is fascinating. Slam poetry, of course, is fascinating by itself. I wish I knew more about it. Marc Smith, I think, usually credited with being the founder of the slam poetry movement, apparently felt that the movement had become too commercial in general, and specifically felt that Def Poetry Jam was exploitative.

Anyway. SpokenPoetryTV collects poetry performance videos. Performed poetry, especially really contemporary stuff, is powerful. Kids like me who come to class already hooked on Keats and Dickinson are pretty unusual. For everyone else, the everyday language, the movement, the audible passion in slam performances can make a transformative difference in their enjoyment of poetry.

No-Prep Reading-Check Quiz.

Never spend valuable time writing questions for reading-check quizzes again! I got this idea from my field placement teacher. It’s so obvious; use the text itself to check for comprehension.

The day the assigned reading is due, put a selection from the text on the board. Ask students three questions about it.

What is happening in this passage?

What happened before?

What happens next?

The questions can be asked in different ways or adapted. The point is, teachers often spend a disproportionate amount of time assessing relatively small things like whether a student has read the assignment and gained a basic understanding of what they’ve read. This makes the reading-check into a routine that not only saves the teacher time and energy, it also helps the student by giving them a structure that they fit new information into as they read future assignments.

Discmix/Feeling Stronger

I’ve been thinking about playlists. I got spotify premium a week ago and It’s so good. I can’t believe I’ve been slumming it with Pandora and itunes for so long. Having the freedom to listen to anything is really amazing. I’ve usually just playlisted similar songs together. Now, I’m trying to not see it as flat, but as something with the potential for topography.

When the weekend arrives and you’re psyching yourself up for grad school work what are you listening to? Maybe something like this.



Make something everyday – even if it’s just a playlist.

Learning about Edutopia

I had assumed that the George Lucas of the educational foundation that carries his name was not THE George Lucas… but he is. Fortunately he’s a better philanthropist than script-writer.

Edutopia is one of the George Lucas Educational Foundation’s projects. They maintain a large and very active community of teachers and administrators. They also promote and curate content from that community on their website, which you can search/browse by topic or strategy.

Most of the content that they promote falls into specific categories, since they have explicitly aligned themselves with a few different “core strategies.” Technology integration, project-based learning, comprehensive assessment, integrated studies, and social-emotional learning, are their big themes.

Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers

I’ve started my search for teaching materials and resources that I can really make my own with with podcasts, since that’s pretty close to where I live right now. I listen to podcasts all the time, and it just makes sense to be getting ideas and inspiration for teaching from that source. So far I’ve turned up some fairly unhelpful podcasts, and one absolute gem.

Angela Watson’s special focus is helping educators with their mental and emotional health. every episode begins the same way, with Angela serenely intoning “I’m here to speak life, encouragement, and truth into the hearts and minds of teachers.” Episodes are short; around 10-12 minutes. I’ve noticed a lot of what she talks about actually has elements of cognitive behavioral therapy.

“Teachers need truth more than anything else. Teachers are constantly being told things that aren’t true. Things like ‘your value is determined by you students’ test scores.’ Things like ‘there’s one right way to teach, and you’re not doing it.’… Someone needs to counter lies like these, and speak truth into teachers’ lives. I’m typically known as being a positive and encouraging person… but I want to be known as a truth teller as well.”

You can see she talks a lot about truth. I’m really connecting with that. I’ve become allergic to positivism for the sake of positivism. The truth heals even when it hurts. Education is complicated enough without creating barriers against simple honesty, with ourselves as well as others.

She signs off with “You can do this. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it.” Thanks Angela. I believe that.

11/01 Edit: She has a pinterest site