Pawnee Sixth Graders Present Open Mic Poetry

Pawnee Sixth Graders Present Open Mic Poetry
Shawnee Mission School District

After completing a two-week poetry unit, students in Zoe Walsh’s sixth grade classes explored the limitlessness of poetry.

Students practiced writing forms of poetry together as a class, then worked individually writing poems in the different styles using their own tone and style in preparation for an open mic event.

As they studied poetry to prepare, classes read, discussed and analyzed new forms of poetry, such as list poems, extended cinquain poems, haiku, simile, and free verse.

“Once we talked about how limitless poetry was, I noticed a big buy-in from students,” shares Walsh.  “I wanted to empower them to write poetry with their own tone and style!”

The classroom was transformed into a Café, complete with student baristas serving drinks and snacks, available for purchase with points earned by each student throughout the year. The room also had a “stage” with a microphone. Walsh exclaims she wanted the experience to be very similar to a real-life open mic.

Students chose one of their poems, refining and editing their work to share. They then practiced their poetry performance with other peers and prepared to share their final poem in front of the class.  Many students wrote pieces about emotions and struggles they were facing. Others wrote pieces about humorous struggles with their siblings.

 “When we started the poetry unit a lot of us were bad and didn’t know how to write poetry,” Aaliyah Collins, sixth grade, shares.  “Each one was different in its own way and a lot of people got through with help from Ms. Walsh. I had fun writing and hearing other people's poems. In the end everyone ended up being a poet which is pretty cool.”