Giving Compass' Take:

Public school districts in Massachusetts are starting a series of slam poetry events that help raise student confidence and enhance their writing ability.

How do other types of arts education also benefit student learning?

Read about the power of arts education on literacy.


In the Sharon Public Schools in Massachusetts, students are exercising their spoken word prowess in the district's first ever Poetry Slam. The district is opening the series of events — which will culminate in a final event April 25 at Sharon High School — to all students in the system, with some working on their pieces after school or during scheduled time at their school library.

High school library media specialist Cathy Collins, who grew up listening to her father recite Yeats, Dickinson and Shakespeare at the kitchen table, firmly believes the Poetry Slam project has an opportunity to bring her students closer to poetry while helping them find their own voices.

“Through creation of a safe space for poetry recitation, confidence and trust develop,” Collins, a librarian and media specialist for Sharon Public Schools, told Education Dive. “In my experience, even the quieter students will take part with encouragement and support from peers.”

Spoken word poetry is a unique hybrid, with written words memorized like lines in a play and said aloud with a performer’s flair. While studying and writing any poetry helps students develop literacy skills, spoken word also helps students build social and emotional skill sets including self-awareness, communication and self-confidence. Plus, as educators note, it’s not a bad way to get kids excited about a literary genre that doesn’t typically engender cheers.

As its name suggests, spoken word needs to be told aloud — performed in a setting where cadence, rhythm and often a sense of staging come into play. Getting up in front of people and having to read what they’ve crafted requires students to tap into their self-confidence.

Read the full article about spoken word poetry by Lauren Barack at Education Dive