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Take Away Workshop Kits

Big Tree Arts

To accommodate our served populations during the COVID-19 crisis, we worked to make virtual and take-away workshops available. The virtual platform allowed us to extend our reach, hosting virtual workshops in local classrooms which allowed our mission to continue. Our Take Away workshop kits allowed teachers, parents, and students to receive poems, prompts, and activities related to the study and performance of poetry. Workshop themes included community, identity, and letter writing and gave students the opportunity to examine poetry beyond the classroom – creating works centered around their lives during this historic time as well as their hopes for the future. In each workshop, students were introduced to the works of a poet (either locally or nationally acclaimed), practiced their literary analysis and critical reading skills, and then created a piece of work reflecting on the theme, structure, content, or goal of the presented poem. They then utilized the poem they created to practice their public speaking skills and present to their classmates.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

To what extent can poetry be found in every day life?

Poetry is an innate part of our lives, and accessing it allows us to access parts of ourselves, build critical individual and communal narratives, and process our life’s experiences. As we engage with poetic thought, we offer ourselves new perspectives and ways of being and come to an understanding of both our inner and outer worlds.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

Students will be able to identify literary/poetic terms such as narrative, alliteration, imagery, metaphor, simile, mood

Students will be able to articulate a broadened emotional vocabulary to better communicate ideas within a personal narrative and with each other in class discussion.

Students will be able to utilize narrative storytelling, making considerations for audience and genre

Students will be able to edit and revise works of their own and their peers’ poetry

Students will be able to perform poetry in front of an audience, paying attention to tone, volume, projection, and other performance qualities.

Idaho Humanities Goals and Objectives 

The Loud Writers’ Project will specifically address the following Idaho Humanities Goal and Objective for students in secondary education:

Theater Performance

Goal 3:3 Communicate through theater with creative expression 

Objective: Create a dramatic work that expresses personal understanding, opinions and belief.

Loud Writers’ additionally addresses the following Language Arts Standards as established by the state of Idaho for children in high school:

The Writing Process 

Standard 3: Acquire pre-writing skills 

Objective: Match format to purpose and audience

Objective: Generate ideas using a variety of strategies

Objective: Acquire skills for revising a draft

Standard 4: Writing Applications (Creative Writing) 

Objective: Acquire expressive writing skills

Objective: Write original creative works including prose and poetry

Impact

Workshops took place with a variety of local schools with a focus on students who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of traditional high school, are struggling in a traditional school setting, and/or are teen parents. All students had a goal of achieving a high school diploma. 

Students enrolled in English courses at all Boise, Nampa, and Meridian area institutions were eligible to participate in the workshops.  Most class sizes are approximately 15 to 30 students, with some classes combined. Ultimately the project will provided local at-risk and disenfranchised youth a constructive means to find connection, inclusion and engagement in their larger community. Our teaching methods honored the need to differentiate instruction in these classrooms, working to meet the needs of each student individually. Creative projects are particularly useful in offering students the ability to take ownership and offering teachers the opportunity to meet students where they’re at to help them grow.

Reflection

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we were able to use the additional time to train 4 new Teaching Artists, ensuring they were proficient in classroom management, and usage of Idaho State Common Core standards, to create a relevant and engaging curriculum. These teaching artists have been able to meet consistently with their groups of students virtually to maintain relationships. Additionally, this has created an opportunity to generate new curriculum for the program and innovate on previous lesson plans to make them even more widely accessible to students. The students who participated found that this program was an important relief from the difficulties of navigating online school and the world during a pandemic, and mentioned numerous times that it helped them regain the sense of personalization their schooling had previously.

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