Friday, February 22, 2008

SLAM Poetry at Silver Creek High School

Yesterday for lunch I watched, listened and vocalized my reactions to a "marvelous" lunch time event of the library at Silver Creek High School, SVVSD, Longmont, CO. It was the monthly student SLAM Poetry contest.

On the 3rd Thursday of each month, Phil Goerner, Teacher Librarian, hosts this fun, educational event in his Power Library. You should have seem him "hawk" his "wares"! Phil has a library full of kids eating lunch while students sign up and read or recite their original poems of three minutes or less. The crowd provides the five judges, a timer and a calculator. The slam includes a sacrifical poem from the previous month's winner - the purpose of this one is to get the crowd warmed up. Then the competitors begin (it is all very fast paced). The highest and lowest scores of the judges is dropped to level the playing field. The two highest scores then have a slam off with another new original poem of their own composition. There is more judging and a winner.

The prizes are fun but kind of cheezy. The winner yesterday won a plastic kite. The judges won a rubber 2" ninja in the color of their choice and the timer and calculator won a balloon race car (smile).

There is much entertainment not only from the competitors but also from the entire crowd. One judge gave the females consistently higher scores than the males. (This judge was a male). One judge gave a 6.66 and one tried to give a 10.999 (I think those were both high and low so they were dropped). A slam is designed for the audience to react vocally and openly to all aspects of the show, including the poet's performance, the judges' scores, and the host's banter.

Next month is the sock puppet slam off - can't wait to go back and see that one! If you are part of our district and are interested in attending one, contact Phil at school.

So what is all of this fun about? Engaged learning - Yes! Way to go Phil!

Educational benefits - students are able to:

  • put a dual emphasis on writing and performance, encouraging them to focus on what they're saying and how they're saying it,
  • meet other poets and audience members, get to know all of the resources and programs available at the slam, (Phil does a good job of advertising library events during this time),
  • meet other students, interact with them, learn from their experiences, and develop new strategies, experiences and programs to add to their learing,
  • feel welcome at the slam. Throughout the slam, students have both formal and informal opportunities to connect, network, and develop positive interactions with fellow students, and other slam attendees,
  • discuss complex social issues related to their own leadership experiences, identity, growth, and development throughout the slam, and
  • gain additional resources to help them be better student leaders on campus. 1
Okay, now, have I ruined all the fun by stating all of the hidden educational experiences? I hope not. I'd love to have a district-wide school slam off. Anyone want to help me put this together?

For more information about Slam poetry, check out Slam Poetry Frequently Asked Questions or check out the book: "Slam Poetry: The Competitive Art of Performance Poetry".

For more engaged learning in St. Vrain, look for my next post on Sunset Middle School's own Gene Kath, math teacher, using the WebMax "check-out-able" (is that a word) eBeam Intelligent white board with wireless blue tooth. He has found that by using it daily in his classes, that students are more engaged in their learning no matter what the math course. All of his kids are loving using it to learn. Kids that never spoke up before are jumping into the class discussions with gusto.

How do you get one? Media Services received it as a technology award selection from the Colorado Adventure of the American Mind free course. If your school hasn't received technology from this source yet and two of you take the class, you can receive up to $3000 in technology of your choice from their list of choices.

1 Adapted from