Expressing with Passion

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De’andre and Rafael engage in collaborative practice anticipating a clap that is being passed around the circle. The challenge is for the students to be alert, look bravely into each other’s eyes, and clap at the same. James observes, “Passing the clap helps us focus. We have to focus on our lines, our cues, what’s going on, and where we’re going.” Here Rafael and
De’andre practice controlling their body movements, which in turn helps them to control their voice and the pacing of their reading and speaking.

Sending the voice

The teaching team focuses on pre-assessing and frontloading the art form, connecting to specific reading strategies. We ask each student to stand in front of the class and read a passage of text projecting their voice. James works on his reading of a poem. Rather than looking down at the page while reading, he utilizes a reading strategy where he “grabs” a few words with his eyes, then looks up at an object in the back of the room to “deliver” his lines. Megan notices a change in her approach to delivering text, “When I read the paper, the class can’t hear me at all. Delivering lines to the back of the room helps me project. I’m getting better at speaking.”

playing with words

Students explore a deeper understanding of onomatopeia when they act out the sounds created from individual words such as Pow!, Ouch! Crumble! Through the use of their bodies and voices, the words come to life. The teacher connects this activity to additional poetic device activities such as alliteration, simile, metaphor, and assonance. The teaching artist encourages students to indulge all the vowels and consonants, making each utterance last as long as it takes for the word “ball” to fly and be caught!

Making sense of the text

The teaching artist leads the students in an activity to deconstruct the text to find operatives—important words. “What words jump out at us?” she asks. “How do we make them come to life? How does reading in a monotone sound?” Students begin to buildconfidence in language and see that operatives make what they are saying clearer. Students analyze poems to find those words requiring operative emphasis and pitch variation.

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