Poetry Slam Event Gives Voice to Collegiate Middle Schoolers

For the second year, Collegiate 6th Grade students in Carolyn Villanueva’s English class collaborated with students from Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School in a Poetry Slam event.
In the 6th Grade poetry unit, Collegiate students read many genres from a variety of voices, and examine the meaning, sound devices and other imagery used. Collegiate Assistant Head of Middle School Dr. Fletcher Collins, who did his dissertation on the topic of sound devices, spoke to students and his expertise helped elevate their understanding of how sounds in poetry are intentional and can create rhythms, movement and meaning. 

Activities such as ode writing, imagery created in virtual reality, authoring their own poetry anthology and participating in the poetry slam help students better see and feel the impact language has on them and an audience, while boosting their confidence and creativity. 

Mrs. Villanueva then asks her students to write or choose a poem to recite. The poem should say something about themselves.

“They begin to see poems from other perspectives,” Mrs. Villanueva said.

This week at the Children’s Museum of Richmond, students and teachers from the two schools met and created poetry together. Mrs. Villanueva and Anna Julia Cooper English and science teacher Mereal Hughes wrote a two-voice poem to get things started. Students worked in pairs to write a poem as a warmup to the event. The results, Mrs. Villanueva says, are remarkable.

“We give them this free, safe space,” Mrs. Villanueva said. “The slam is an opportunity for students to celebrate their voices and learn from the voices of others. They see that poetry is a vehicle for that, and that is a powerful connection.”
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