Mapping out a new year’s curriculum with fresh ideas can be challenging for Language Arts teachers seeking to create original and engaging units. Promethean’s ActivPanel and ClassFlow can help alleviate your concerns by making your classroom an interactive learning environment. Presenting spoken word poetry is a great way for students to bridge the gap between the acquisition of knowledge and creative output from their summer reading lists.

Using the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and Common Core Standards as assignment guidelines, this project will give students the chance to unpack all aspects of a class novel with Promethean’s device-agnostic approach. Creating a student-generated class in ClassFlow and sharing resources that reflect central themes of the novel will help facilitate station and rotation style learning for the assignment. Assigning students into small groups and customizing group names will let you differentiate based on the learning styles of each set of students.

Step 1: Pick a Character and Team

Groups will base its project around one character from the source material. Encourage students to brainstorm by using keywords to summarize the character’s journey, and find an object that is relevant to the character’s theme. Connecting students to a rostered class on ClassFlow and using the Quick Poll option will engage students and give you live updates of the brainstorming session. Adding a YouTube video to your ClassFlow lesson will allow you to provide an example to a live spoken word performance. While mirroring in ActivCast, annotate over a live video to reinforce key concepts during the drafting, peer editing, and performance stages of the performance. Go paperless by assigning the rough draft as homework, along with the option to assign to teams and allow group collaboration.

 Step 2: Collaborate as a Team

After students have submitted their rough drafts digitally via ClassFlow, use the Spinner App to create a new category and display the rotating roles among each group. For example, one student will be using a designated highlighter color to seek out the best lines in each teammate’s rough draft. Another will choose a different highlighter color to critique lines that can be improved. A third student will serve as the editor-in-chief who will synthesize the best aspects of the drafts into a finalized text. Finally, a fourth group member will be the lead choreographer who chooses the media format that best presents the poem.

Step 3: Share Group Work

Mirroring each group’s work by the ActivCast Sender app, which is installed on student devices, will allow them to share their group’s work and allow you to annotate their work in real-time. Set up four individual group timers with the Timer App to properly pace the writer’s workshop during in-class work time. As students refine the tone and tempo of the final draft, the group choreographers can play, pause, and reset their timers during poem rehearsals.

Step 4: Ready, Set, Act!

On performance day, invite your students to utilize examples of literary devices that enhance the overall direction of the final poem. Clear transitions, smooth diction, and active audience engagement are critical elements to an effective spoken word performance. Students can be graded on how much they understand the source material, whether they are developing original ideas, and if they are successfully conveying those ideas through their performance. By mirroring choreographed media through ActivCast, your students’ final performance on ActivPanel will feature the same artistic elements found in professional acting troupes. Your students’ spoken word masterpieces will be the talk of their lunch table, transforming your Promethean classroom into the center stage for creative learning.

For more information to make your classroom Promethean friendly, check out the recommendations below:

  • Poetry Out Loud is a national program that encourages students to learn about great poetry and master public speaking skills, reaching out to more than 3.6 million students in the U.S. The site features great teaching resources and lesson plans on all things poetry.
  • Jeanne Wolz is a transformational influencer on professional development and curriculum for English and Language Arts teachers. Her blog Teacher Off Duty is filled with trending lesson ideas and helpful tips for a dynamic classroom experience.

Author: Brent Hawk is an Education Consultant for Promethean in New York City. He taught high school Spanish for 6 years in Ohio, where he implemented a Comprehensible Input (CI) based curriculum to promote cultural fluency –– which is part of the school district’s 1:1 Chromebook initiative grant.