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Monday, November 2, 2015

Perspectives from Powell, Part III: Group Poems and Teamwork

This fall, Writing Coordinator Mira Smith is coaching writing at Powell Elementary School in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, DC. The Powell Panthers love soccer, but are also learning how to express their feelings about the beautiful game -- and much more -- through the poetry aspect of DC SCORES. Follow along as Mira takes us on a journey, through her words and those of her poet-athletes, leading up to the Poetry Slam! December 2.


Written by Mira Smith
Writing Coordinator

My family
My blood
My house floods with love
Love from my mom
We sit in the rug
While watching the movie of hugs
Kisses from my mother
Hugs from my Brother
They love me
I love them back
-- Written by Jennifer

This week I have the pleasure of staffing Powell’s soccer game against Capital City Public Charter School. Seeing each poet-athlete’s level of determination, sportsmanship and caring toward their teammates reminds me how much progress the team has made since September.

With teamwork month coming to a close, I can see the connection each student feels for the Powell Power Panthers. In hopes of reminding the students that poetry also takes teamwork, I decided to focus on group cooperative work this week.

At the beginning of the session, all of the students step into the hall for a game of ‘cross the line.’ With the students lined up against the wall, I explain to them that I will read out statements and they simply have to follow my instructions.

“Step forward if you get excited before a soccer game.”

“Step forward if you get nervous before soccer games.”

“Step forward if you are excited for the Slam!"

“Step forward if you don’t care about the Slam!”

"Step forward if you love to dance."

As they step forward, I encourage them to look around and see what the rest of their teammates are doing. “Step forward if you want to be a team player,” and every single Panther takes three huge steps.

Next the poets reflect in their notebooks how it felt doing the exercise. Jennifer writes, “It felt good when everybody stepped forward because it shows they want to be a part of the team.” Emelin writes, “It felt normal when they did not step with me because everyone has different opinions of their way of thinking.”

Overall this exercise reminded each student how awesome it feels to be a part of a team but that there are challenges because everyone is different and has a unique experience.

After voting on topics, we decide to write our first group poem about soccer (what a surprise!). In groups, poets write a chorus for the soccer poem. I ask them to think about how soccer makes them feel, how soccer connects the team and to try to use some of the writing tools we have learned over the past two months. One group decides to write a rap titled “Messi is a Beast” and performs it complete with beat-boxing and back-up singers. While I do not want to ruin the surprise and share the group poem before the Poetry Slam! Dec. 2, a couple of team members wrote individual poems in addition to their chorus.

I am a soccer player
I am the world’s best goalie
For my team, no matter what I’ll block those shots and strikes
Light or fast or in the air
I’ll stop them
Running through the sky
I’ll stop them
-- Written by Edwin

When I’m wearing my jersey
I like to eat beef jerky
I defend the game
But at the end of the game
We lose and that's a shame
Midfield runs to the ball
As they were cheetahs running through the mall
When I wear my jersey I get so murky (crazy)
I love to play soccer through the day
But it always ends with our strength and smartness through the day
-- Written by Lea


Previous Posts
Part I
Part II

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