Introduction: (10 minutes)
Start your visit by introducing yourself briefly and then us, by screening the Poetry In Voice Introduction Video. It is only 3 minutes long and gives students an overview of all the ways they can use our website to appreciate and create poetry. If students or teachers have any questions, invite them to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Introduce yourself more fully, as you see fit. You might talk about how you became a poet, what sort of poetry you write, and/or why you want to share your work with students.
An age-appropriate icebreaker is always a good idea to encourage students to participate throughout your visit. Students can either answer verbally or by using the comments or other features of your platform. Below are a few icebreaker ideas, but this is a perfect opportunity for you to be creative.
- Ask all students to answer the following question with one word: “POETRY IS ______” If they’re writing via the comments tool in the platform, read some of their answers (and names) aloud.
- Ask the students how they think poetry is made. Students will surprise you with the range of their thoughts from "with a pen" to "with what's left from a dream".
- Take a poll (if your platform allows it) to find out how many students have read a poem recently, how many have written a poem, how many know a Canadian poet? Tell them they’ll be able to answer yes to all these questions after today.
Quickly let the students know what you will be doing for the visit so they feel prepared. Assure them that there are no wrong answers in poetry, and that while poetry isn’t always easy, it shouldn’t be intimidating; like with any art form, we should “start from a point of pleasure” (Adam Sol).
Activity ideas for your visit: (30-40 minutes)
Read your poems and/or someone else's poetry (possibly poems from our online anthology!) Students need to hear contemporary poetry read aloud; your visit may be the first time they experience this! Consider whether you would like to read several poems without stopping, as you might do at a poetry reading, or whether you will encourage questions and comments after each poem. In either case, communicate this to the students.
Write with the students. To help them create a poem, give the students one of our writing prompts, or a favourite writing prompt of your own. Limit the activity to less than 5 minutes. Encourage the teacher to write as well, and write a poem yourself. When everyone is finished, you can ask if anyone is brave enough to share their poem. You and the teacher can read yours first to get the ball rolling, and you can also call on the teacher to help pick students to read their poems.
Create smaller groups that work together using breakout rooms (if available on your virtual platform) or by asking students in-class to form groups. They could share their poems within the group, or perhaps co-create a poem that will then be shared with the whole class. Visit each breakout room, or ask the teacher if she can pick up the laptop and take you on a tour of the class! Again, time-box this activity to five or 10 minutes.
Engage with the students through their work. It’s no exaggeration to say that your feedback may stay with students their entire lives. You might also engage with work they wrote before the visit. You can ask the teacher beforehand if there are any students that would like to screen share their work with you, or read it aloud in class.
Use other virtual platform tools to create engaging activities for your students. Again, be as creative as you like! And then let us know what worked and what didn’t work. Remind the students that poetry can be experimental, and your visit can be too.
Questions & Answers: (10-15 minutes)
End your visit with a final Q&A, or even some time to chat with students who want to talk to you one-on-one. This happens naturally at the end of an in-person classroom visit as students are transitioning to their next class, when one or two deeply impacted students want to talk to you personally. You might be able to arrange a simulation of this experience by talking to the teacher. Maybe you can be available in a breakout room for 10 minutes after class, for example, and when one student leaves the room another enters.
Remind students to visit our website! Let them know that they'll find amazing poetry, writing prompts and exercises, and recitation contests, where they can compete for prizes and travel worth over $75 000.