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Monday, April 28, 2014

NISD Poetry Slam: The Invisible Made Visible

Music In The Air-Each line was taken from a song.
On February 18, 2014 a synergistic district-wide event came to be.  In the span of a few short weeks a run-of-the-mill poetry lesson became an "occasion" where the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. 

#NISDpoetryslam brought together, not simply three middle schools that were miles apart, but students of all backgrounds who happened to live in disparate regions of the district.  Medlin, Wilson, and Pike Middle School students that might never have met were laying bare private thoughts, dreams, and hopes to peers via their poems (and some technology).

Sprouting from a desire to have her students reach an audience outside of her classroom walls, Meagan Davis pulled together a like minded team (which included Taylor Davis, Laynie Johnson, Jamie Eikenberry as well as I.T. support staff Charles, Rene, and Kirsten) to implement "the new wave of learning" (as one onlooker described it).
davis, google docs, google hang out, meagan, Medlin, nisd poetry slam, poetry slam, today's meet, twitter, 6-8, Medlin, Secondary, Middle School,


  According to the TEKS:
 Nowhere in the TEKS, were students required to share closely guarded personal  experiences, allow peers into their minds as they relived warm seemingly timeless summer moments, or see the "Score, score, score" excitement from a football player turned poet's vantage point.  They did it anyway.

Students were excited to use Google Hangout, Today's Meet, Google Forms, and Twitter as they combined technology and the humanities.  These resources helped carve a community out of a mass of strangers.

Even those that chose not to share their poems contributed by asking questions of the presenters, made supportive statements to one another through back-channels like Today's Meet, and cheered their peers with Tweets like the one below.


Students evaluated each of the several performances via Google Forms.  By the end of the day, over 1750 evaluations were documented!  Every student had a task, participated, and took center stage that day.

Adults spoke up only to guide and prod students with questions or to clarify instruction.  Students truly were in charge of the event.  Education, as Aristotle once wrote, makes intelligent people do what the law would otherwise force.  Education civilizes, frees, and glues communities together.  Education, as another ancient writer penned, allows people to become who they are.

As students took ownership over the poetry-slam there was a buzz in the air.  Discipline issues were near zero.  Students were locked in on that ephemeral, wispy barely tangible center of all mankind...for fleeting moments each student got a glimpse of something that tends to escape their adult counterparts: each other's soul.

The video can be viewed here.

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