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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Power of Poetry at Brightwood, Part VI: Acting out the performance

This fall, DC SCORES Digital Media Intern Paris Volpe is attending the after-school poetry sessions at Brightwood Education Campus (Elementary School) to observe how the Panthers discover "The Power of Poetry." Each week, Paris is writing about the curriculum and lesson plans of the program. Follow as she documents the progression of the students’ self-expression and writing techniques. You can also follow Paris' experiences on Twitter by following @DCSCORESinterns and view photos on Flickr.


Written by Paris Volpe
Digital Media Intern

“You know what I would really like to see our class do to represent teamwork?” Coach Rosenberg asks her class. Right as Rosenberg is about to continue, Betelihem G., age 10, stands up and gives her a high-five.

The class bursts into laughter.

Shocked, Rosenberg says, “Wow. Wait. I like that idea way better.”

Now everyone starts to high-five.

There is no shortage of ideas in this classroom. For the entirety of this session on a cold mid-November afternoon, the Panthers share their thoughts on what actions and expressions they should perform during their group poem at the Dec. 3 Poetry Slam!.

Rosenberg patiently goes through each line of the poem with her class, asking for performance recommendations for key words. She keeps the energy flow of the classroom continuous and positive. As individual suggestions come in, she helps the kids develop their thoughts into specific actions the class can perform together.

“How can we demonstrate being helpful?” Rosenberg asks.

“Help someone carry their books!” shouts Trey O, age 10.

“Give them money!” suggests Ammanuel A., age 10.

“Catch them if they fall!” shouts another student.

Eventually the class agrees to act out helping someone who has dropped their wallet. Two volunteers practice this a few times with the supportive direction of their classmates. Even though there are a few mistakes along the way, the giggles never stop.

Finally, when all the actions are listed on the board, the class practices together. I didn’t think these students could get anymore enthusiastic. But boy was I wrong.

All of a sudden, the class is jumping, dancing, playing air-guitar, high-fiving, stomping. Even Sammy M., age 10, who is typically very quiet, is having a blast with Troy R., age 10, coming up with dance moves.

Eventually, everyone settles and we all try to catch our breath from laughing so much. Then Rosenberg asks Betelihem, who will be performing the individual poem, when she would like to give her poem. Betelihem stutters a bit. Rosenberg notices her hesitance.

“You can go after the first group poem,” she says. “If you feel nervous, you can always wait on the side and come out after us. But you will have your class behind you the entire time. You’re not going to be alone.”

Betelihem relaxes a bit and nods.

This session made it evident how far this DC SCORES team has come. Not only have I seen their writing improve, but their confidence, too.

They might have moments of hesitancy, but when they stand together there isn’t anything they can’t do.

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