Poetry, Our First Unit Together

My major formative assessments for this unit were in-class discussions and activities, and poetry journal responses. The summative assessments for this unit were the Poetry Anthology and class poetry slam and open mic, where each student performed an original poem that they wrote. Most students performed the poem they wrote for the anthology, but many students wrote new poems for the anthology as well. Additionally, at the end of the unit, I asked students to fill out a reflection survey online to determine what takeaways they had from the unit as a whole.

Through the poetry anthology, I was able to gauge how well students had learned about the elements of poetry by having them write their own poems. I was also able to see how much they had learned about the writing process, as we had spent time on writing drafts and working on revising those drafts.

Through the poetry slam and open mic, I was able to see whether or not students had understood the difference between reading a poem on the page, and performing a poem on the stage.

The final reflection survey also helped me to see what the students felt they had learned the most from the whole experience. Based on the majority of the responses, most students felt that they walked away having learned that there are many different types of poetry, and that each form of poetry has its own set of “rules,” but often times poets choose not to follow those rules.

Moving Towards Independent Work

The next major unit that the 8th grade and I began together is a unit on exploring identity. The central text of this unit isĀ The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Throughout this unit, I have been focusing on pushing student learning and inquiry to the next level, as well as helping guide the students towards independent work. We have been having socratic seminars and discussing how to have a more effective classroom discussion, framing class discussions as “dialogues” where all participants’ views are valued and listened to. We have also been working in Book Clubs, which are groups of 4-5 students that will be reading, discussing, and completing activities based on the book.

Though this unit is still in progress, I am already seeing evidence of student growth in the depth of their thinking during class discussions and in-class writing assignments.