Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
Author: The Last Poets
Works: "On the Subway" and "Jones Comin' Down" from The Last Poets' self-titled CD (1970).
Cathie Wright-Lewis uses critical pedagogy to help students understand the political underpinnings of Abiodun Oyewole's spoken word poetry, and to learn how to express their own political beliefs. Her lesson teaches students how poetic language can create emotional and rational arguments.
To prepare for the lesson, view The Expanding Canon video program 8, Part I. Online, review the Session 8 theory overview, strategies, information about the authors and literature, resources, and the downloadable print guide. Review "On the Subway" and "Jones Comin' Down" from The Last Poets' self-titled CD (1970) -- "On the Subway" transcript available in the print guide.
Teachers will need the following supplies:
Standards for the English Language Arts
1. After Cathie Wright-Lewis writes the word "griot" on the board, she and her students discuss the West African griot tradition, that includes questions such as:
3. Wright-Lewis urges the students to become griots by observing and writing poetry about their own environment. She asks them to be descriptive in their observations of their surroundings. The students discuss how clothing and style can define a particular time, answering questions such as:
6. Wright-Lewis tells the students that they will have an opportunity to write a poem similar to the poems they have just heard. She divides students into three groups and asks students to imagine themselves in a different place in their neighborhoods -- on the bus, in the hallway, on the street. Using The Last Poets' work as a model, the students craft poems -- either individually or collectively in their small groups -- that reflect the politics of the times.
7. After students share these poems aloud, others in the class comment on the language that they hear in the poems.
8. Wright-Lewis tells students that they will have a chance, at a local poetry workshop, to speak with poet Abiodun Oyewole. She asks the students to prepare questions and to bring any poem they might like to share.
1. Wright-Lewis introduces poet Abiodun Oyewole to the students attending the poetry workshop. Oyewole performs his poem "Jones Comin' Down" and answers students' questions. (Teachers may want to show students a clip from The Expanding Canon video program 8, Part I, featuring Abiodun Oyewole and/or a video of other spoken word artists.)
2. The students read their poetry to Abiodun Oyewole, who then provides feedback.