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Saturday, October 13 • 2:00pm - 2:30pm
Complicating the Canon: Discovering and Developing Student Voice through Living Poets

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Historically, teenagers are the rebels, the revolutionaries, and the spark to change the status quo and injustices in society, yet their voices are being lost in the standardization of learning, lack of diverse texts, and limited avenues in school for self expression. When classroom instruction is limited to a one-size-fits-all approach with a limited curriculum, individual student voices are no longer heard and valued. Teaching contemporary poets to today’s students not only exposes them to a myriad of different voices and current issues but also gives them the courage to find and use their voices as agents of change in society.

The #teachlivingpoets hashtag has blossomed on Twitter, but it is more than a hashtag; it’s a movement of teachers to get modern poetry in the hands of today’s students. Teaching living poets allows students to traverse a richer landscape of diverse identities and experiences through the lens of poetry. Students can then use their identities and experiences to give voice to their own stories and narratives with modern poems being the mentor texts and modern poets serving as the mentors for writing and activism.

Teaching modern poetry can be intimidating for even the most experienced teachers. The presenter will share classroom lessons and ideas which foster an appreciation of poetry as art as well as how poetry can create raise awareness on issues of equity, justice, and humanity in general. The focus of these lessons cover a variety of ideas from reading comprehension, literary analysis, connecting modern poetry to canon and nonfiction, and finding personal voice using modern poems as mentor texts. Special attention will also be given to the benefits of teaching a contemporary poetry collection as a whole with lessons and instructional resources.

Digital tools and social media enhance the learning experience with modern poetry in the classroom. This session will cover the best practices on how to find and connect with poets online and in person. The presenter will share how using social media such as Twitter and Instagram has not only connected students to poets but poets to students creating a platform for an ongoing academic relationship and sharing of ideas. Skype also enriches classroom lessons and student experience giving students the opportunity to talk with poets about their poems, writing process, and contemporary issues, and teachers will be walked through the process of planning and preparing for a Skype call with a poet.

Finally, the panel will share how students can document and share their perspectives on contemporary poetry through blogging and using tools such as Flipgrid. Evidence will be shared from a blog share with students from across the nation where they post about poetry, read other students posts about poetry, and offer thoughtful comment. Gaining perspective from students nationwide has allowed students to move beyond their classroom and geographic area, and the exchange has provided students an avenue to voice their opinions and ideas.

Today’s society can be a confusing time and place for students, but modern poetry bridges the gap and helps put into words what students are feeling but may not be able to express. Teachers need to #teachlivingpoets.

avatar for Adrian Nester

Adrian Nester

English Teacher, Tunstall High School
Adrian Nester is an Advanced Placement and Inclusion secondary English teacher in Pittsylvania County with 18 years teaching experience. She is excited to share the shifts in her own classroom towards choice reading and complicating the canon. Adrian will represent Virginia on the... Read More →

Saturday October 13, 2018 2:00pm - 2:30pm EDT
Salon F 2801 Hershberger Road, Roanoke, VA 24017