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Full text of "Poetry Out Loud - National Recitation Contest : teachers guide"

NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS 

and 

POETRY FOUNDATION 

present 




NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 



TEACHERS GUIDE 



No student will be excluded from participation in this program on the basis of race, color, 
religion, sex, disability, or national origin. 

Additional copies of this publication can be downloaded at www.poetryoutIoud.org. 

This publication is published by: 
National Endowment for the Arts 
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW 
Washington, DC 20506-0001 
202-682-5400 / www.arts.gov 




The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the 
arts — both new and established — bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts 
education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, 
the Endowment is the nation's largest annual f under of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, 
including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. 




The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization 
committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It has embarked on an ambitious plan 
to bring the best poetry before the largest possible audiences. 



PHOTOS (LEFT TO RIGHT, TOP TO BOTTOM): P 6 POETRY MAGAZINE, KATHLEEN RUTLEDGE, JOSEPH BREITENBACH, POETRY MAGAZINE, MARC NORBERG, ROBERT FRANK, 
JILL D'ALESSANDRO; P 10 TOD MARTENS, BARBARA SAVAGE CHERESH, DONNA LEE, MATTHEW CARLOS SCHWARTZ, POETRY MAGAZINE, DAVID BARTOLOMI, ALFRED 
MOSKOWITZ; P 12 GORDEN PARKES, HANK DE LEO, DAVID BURCKHALTER, GEORGE CSERNA, JOHN EDDY, ANGUS MCBEAN, JEFF ETHERIDGE; P 16 DON GETSUG STUDIOS, 
JOANN CARNEY, ERIC STEHLBERG, COURTESY OF THE NEWBERRY LIBRARY, POETRY MAGAZINE, POETRY MAGAZINE, POETRY MAGAZINE; P 18 HULLEAH TSINHNAHJINNIE. 
COURTESY OF THE ROSENBACH MUSEUM, POETRY MAGAZINE, PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN, JULIET VAN OTTEREN, COLLEEN MCKAY, JAMES H. MITCHELL, MD. 



CONTENTS 



LETTERS OF WELCOME 4 

PROGRAM OVERVIEW 7 

ORGANIZING THE CONTEST EVENTS 8 

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES 11 

SUGGESTED CLASS SCHEDULE 13 

EVALUATION CRITERIA 14 

CONTEST EVALUATION SHEET 15 

NCTE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS STANDARDS 17 



LETTERS OF WELCOME 




The memorization and recitation of poetry have been central elements of education since ancient 
times. Performance is also a major new trend in poetry. This recent resurgence of poetry as an oral art 
form can be seen in the slam poetry movement and in the immense popularity of rap music. 

The National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation have partnered with the State Arts 
Agencies on an exciting new program, Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest, which invites the 
dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English class. Poetry Out Loud helps 
students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. 

Learning great poetry by heart develops the mind and the imagination. By encouraging your students 
to study, memorize, and perform some of the most influential and timeless poems of the English 
language, you immerse them in powerful language and provocative ideas. 

Although many students may initially be nervous about reciting in front of their teenage peers, the 
experience will prove valuable — not only in school, but also in life. Much of the future success of 
students will depend on how well they present themselves in public. Whether talking to one person 
or many, public speaking is a skill people use everyday in both the workplace and the community. 

Poetry recitation as a competitive event is as old as the Olympic Games. Along with wrestling, long- 
distance running, and the javelin toss, the ancient Olympics included contests in music and poetry. 
Performers trained for years and traveled great distances to the Games. Please join us in restoring 
the energy and esprit of poetry recitation nationwide as Poetry Out Loud. 



2^x^' fl 



Dana Gioia 

Chairman 

National Endowment for the Arts 



4 POETRY OUT LOUD 




Can there be any subject more difficult to teach in the classroom than poetry? Students who take their 
culture at the speed of the Internet may not easily find it in a measured, majestic poem that comes 
down to us from the past. But a great poem has much to tell if we can find a way to listen. It will speak 
to us and for us, giving voice to times of great joy or great loss. As we grow ofder it will grow with 
us, waiting to give new meaning to our deepening experience. "Why should I study this poem," the 
Internet-sawy student may ask, "let alone try to learn it by heart?" And we may answer, "Because 
it is a chance to make a friend for life." 

The Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest brings new energy to an ancient art by returning 
it to the classrooms of America. The public recitation of great poetry is a way to honor the speaker, 
the poem and the audience all at once. Hearing a poem spoken aloud, we discover that a poem is before 
anything else an event of the ear. In the hands of the poet our everyday speech becomes a musical 
instrument. The meaning of the poem, we find, lies as much in the sound of its words as in their sense. 

Hearing the spoken words of the ancient poets we learn that we are not alone, that men and women 
always have felt as we feel, that the human spirit has been the unchanging constant in the history 
of our kind. Hearing the voices of our contemporary poets we learn again that we are not alone, that 
in our individuality we are a community. In this way the recitation of poetry brings history to life; 
in this way it creates community. 

The Poetry Foundation is committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. Through its 
programs the Foundation seeks to make poetry directly relevant to the American public. We are excited 
to join with the National Endowment for the Arts in the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. 



qA ^w 



John Barr 
President 
The Poetry Foundation 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 5 




6 POETRY OUT LOUD 



PROGRAM OVERVIEW 



HISTORY OF PROGRAM 

In spring 2005 several thousand students participated in successful pilot programs of Poetry Out Loud 
in Washington, DC and Chicago, Illinois. The program has now been expanded to state capitals across 
America. More than 250,000 students will take part in Poetry Out Loud this year. 

CONTEST STRUCTURE 

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Beginning at the classroom level, winners from each class 
will advance to a school-wide competition. Each school will then send a finalist to the state-capital 
competition. In May 2006 one student from each state will compete in the National Finals in 
Washington, DC. 

CLASSROOM TIME AND SCHEDULE 

The curriculum for Poetry Out Loud has been intentionally designed to fit into a teacher's busy schedule 
without much disruption. The program takes place over the span of two to three weeks, according 
to each teacher's interest and schedule, and it will not require full class periods during that time. 
To accommodate schools' testing demands and vacation calendars, Poetry Out Loud can be 
implemented any time during January through March. 

NCTE STANDARDS 

Poetry Out Loud satisfies nearly all of the NCTE English Language Arts Standards (detailed information 
follows). In addition to memorizing and performing great poems, students will have the opportunity 
to discuss poems and — if the teacher wishes to use the optional lesson plans on the website — to write 
poetry of their own. 

PRIZES 

The following prizes are offered for the official contests identified and conducted by the National 
Endowment for the Arts and the government State Arts Agencies during the spring of 2006. The prizes 
do not apply to other contests. 

State Prizes 

Each winner at the state level will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington (with a 
chaperone) to compete for the national championship. The state winner's school will receive a $500 
stipend for the purchase of poetry books. One runner-up in each state will receive $100, with $200 
for his or her school library. 

National Prizes 

A total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends will be awarded to the winners at the Poetry Out 
Loud National Finals. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 7 



ORGANIZING THE CONTEST EVENTS 



LEAD TEACHERS 

We recommend that each school identify one or two teachers to serve as the coordinators of Poetry 
Out Loud. Duties for Lead Teachers will include enlisting fellow teachers to participate, distributing the 
materials, organizing the school finals event, and keeping in touch with the State Coordinator. (Search 
"State Contacts" on the website, www.poetryoutIoud.org, to identify your State Coordinator.) 

We recommend that you organize your school event as soon as possible, in order to ensure greater 
attendance by the school community. The website includes tips on promoting the event within your 
school and community. 

JUDGING THE CLASSROOM AND SCHOOL CONTESTS 

The classroom teacher can serve as the sole judge for the classroom contests. At the school finals, three 
to five judges should be sufficient — a group of teachers may serve as judges, or you may invite some 
community members to judge the contest. Appropriate judges to invite could be local poets, actors, 
politicians, professors, arts reporters, or members of the school board. 

We recommend that you print the Evaluation Scoresheets before the school contest, including the 
names of the participants and, if possible, the titles of the poems they will recite. This will save time 
for the judges during the contest and will allow them to focus their full attention on the performers. 

PROMPTER 

Even the most experienced actors can forget their lines. It is very helpful to have a teacher or student 
sit in front of the performers with copies of the poems to read along with the recitations, ready to 
prompt a student who may get stuck on a line. Show the performers where the Prompter is sitting 
before the contest begins, so they know where to look if they get lost during their recitations. If a 
performer is stuck for several seconds and looks to the Prompter for help, the Prompter may whisper 
the first words of the next line to get the performer back on track. 

ACCURACY JUDGE 

We advise you to assign a separate judge or a diligent student to serve as an Accuracy Judge. On a copy 
of the poem, the Accuracy Judge should mark missed or incorrect words made during the recitation. 
The teacher or lead judge can decide on the point scale for evaluating accuracy (i.e. minus one point 
for a couple of minor mistakes, minus two points for several mistakes or for missing lines, etc.). If the 
performer relies too heavily on the Prompter, points may be subtracted from the performer's accuracy 
score. (As many as four points may be subtracted.) 

CONTEST SCORING ADVICE 

The judges usually need a few seconds between recitations to score the previous performance. Make 
sure the host waits for the judges' acknowledgment before the next performer begins. It is also helpful 
to have a couple of people tallying scores during the contest, so the winners may be announced at the 
end of the event. 

POEM SELECTION AND PERFORMANCE TIME 

Students may select poems from the paper or online anthologies. All poems are at least eight but no 
more than 60 lines in length. The maximum time per poem should be about three or four minutes. 

8 POETRY OUT LOUD 



LENGTH OF CONTEST - LARGE AND SMALL SCHOOLS 

A contest event should run for less than two hours; any longer than that can be difficult for the 
audience. Ideally, six to 15 students should compete in each school's final contest. If your school has 
six to 15 classes participating in the program, send one winner from each class to the school finals. 
If fewer than six classes are participating, two students from each class may advance to the school 
finals. If more than 15 classes are participating, you might consider holding grade-level competitions 
first, allowing two students from each grade to advance to the school finals. 

NUMBER OF POEMS AT EACH CONTEST LEVEL 

At the classroom contest, students must prepare one poem for recitation. Participants in the school 
finals must prepare two poems for recitation. For the students who advance to the state and national 
levels, three poems must be prepared for recitation. 

It is strongly recommended that students who compete beyond the classroom level select poems 
of various style, time period, and voice. That diversity of selection will offer a richer and more 
complete performance. 

» 

MOVEMENT, MUSIC, AND COSTUMES 

The recitation of poetry, in this context, is a bit different than theater acting. No music, costumes, 
or props may be used. However, gestures and some amount of movement may be appropriate and 
should be encouraged, depending on the poem. 

INTRODUCING THE POEM 

At the competition, students should stand before the audience, introduce themselves, and identify the 
poem they will perform. They should announce both the title and the author of the poem. (For example, 
"This is 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree,' by William Butler Yeats," or "I will be reciting 'The New Colossus,' 
by Emma Lazarus.") The poem must be recited from memory. 

ACCOMMODATIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES 

All evaluation criteria can be adjusted to accommodate students with disabilities. If an element 
of evaluation cannot apply to a contestant, you may remove it from the score sheet and average 
the applicable scores rather than add them. Additional guidance on implementing Poetry Out Loud 
for students with disabilities is available on the website, www.poetryoutIoud.org. 

We recommend that you provide a sign language interpreter at your school finals if you expect to have 
audience members who would benefit from that service. Signing students may perform with a voice 
interpreter, and you may enlist judges who know sign language. 

ADDITIONAL SCHOOL PRIZES 

Some schools have given their finalists extra prizes, ranging from gift certificates to anthologies. It may 
be appropriate to ask a local business (bookstore, cafe, record store, etc.) to donate those additional 
prizes. This is, of course, optional. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 9 




I like to think he knew that, even when, 
proud (orgulloso) of his daughter's pen, 

he stood outside mis versos, half in fear 
of words he loved but wanted not to hear. 

RHINA P. ESPAILLAT 



10 POETRY OUT LOUD 



CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES 



1 Have students browse the poems. We have provided classroom poetry anthologies and an extensive 
online anthology that includes several browsing options. Allow time for the students to browse 

the selection, either as homework or a classroom activity, and have the students select some poems 
they might memorize. 

2 Begin class with a poem a day. Another way to expose students to poetry that they might not 
discover on their own is to read or recite a poem to them at the start of each class period. The 
website, www.poetryoutIoud.org, includes poet biographies that may be read aloud, as well. 

3 Ask each student to select a poem to memorize. At the classroom level, each student must choose 
one poem of eight or more lines to memorize and prepare for performance. Participants in the 
school-wide competitions will prepare two poems to recite. Students who advance to the citywide, 
statewide, or national levels will prepare three poems. 

4 Discuss the poems in class. Understanding the text is the most important preparation for reading 
poetry aloud. If a performer doesn't understand the text, neither will the audience. Lead class 
discussions about the students' selected poems. (Dictionaries may be necessary for this activity.) 
Depending on class size, it might be wise to divide the students into groups of six to eight for 
discussions and text analyses. 

5 Have students memorize the poems. Share these memorization tips with your students: 1. Rewrite 
your poem by hand several times. Each time, try to write more and more of it from memory. 2. Read 
your poem aloud before going to sleep at night, and repeat it when you wake up. 3. Carry around a 
copy of your poem in your pocket or bag. You'll find several moments throughout the day to reread 
or recite it. 4. Practice your poem by saying it to family and friends. 

6 Model recitation skills in the classroom. The teacher should model both effective and ineffective 
recitation practices, asking students to point out which elements of the performance are successful 
and which are not. On the board, develop a list of bad habits that distract the audience or 

take away from the performance, such as inaudible volume, speaking too quickly, monotone voice, 
fidgeting, and mispronunciations. Then develop a list of elements that a successful recitation 
performance should contain, such as sufficient volume, an appropriate speed with the proper 
pauses, voice inflection, evidence of understanding, pronunciation, and eye contact with the 
audience. The teacher may also play portions of the audio CD for the students, as further examples 
of recitation practices. 

7 Practice the poems. Allow class time for students to practice their poems. Break the class into pairs 
of students (rotating each session), and have each student practice with a partner. Partners should 
offer constructive criticism, using the Evaluation Sheet and Criteria as a guide. 

8 Include creative writing exercises. Creative writing is a natural complement to Poetry Out Loud. 
For that reason, we have developed a number of optional writing exercises and lesson plans for 
teachers. You can find them on the website, www.poetryoutIoud.org. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST II 




12 POETRY OUT LOUD 



SUGGESTED CLASS SCHEDULE 



WEEK ONE 

1 Have students browse the anthologies and choose poems to memorize. (1 full class) 

2 Read and discuss the poems in class. (2-3 full classes) 

3 Model effective and ineffective recitation practices for the students. (1 full class) 

4 Have students practice their poems with partners. (15 minutes per day) 

WEEK TWO 

1 Have students practice their poems with different partners each day. They should also work 
on their memorization and performance outside of school. Students should have their poems 
completely memorized and be able to recite without using a page by the end of the week. 

(15 minutes per day) 

2 Implement the writing exercises and lesson plans. While reserving a portion of each class period 
for recitation practice, you might offer a more complete poetry unit that includes creative writing 
elements, using the provided lessons. (1-5 full classes, optional) 

3 Hold the classroom recitation contests at the end of the week. (1-2 full classes) 



WEEK THREE 

1 Winners of the classroom contests will prepare two poems for recitation, and will compete 
in the school-wide competition at the end of this week. (1 hour) 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 13 



EVALUATION CRITERIA 



All evaluation criteria can be adjusted to accommodate students with disabilities. If an element 
of evaluation cannot apply to a contestant, you may remove it from the score sheet and average the 
applicable scores rather than add them. Additional guidance on implementing Poetry Out Loud for 
students with disabilities is available on the website, www.poetryoutIoud.org. 



VOLUME 

Project to the audience. You want to capture the 
attention of everyone, including the people in the 
back row. 

SPEED 

Perform at a natural pace. People may speak 
or express themselves too quickly when they are 
nervous, which can make a performance difficult 
to understand. Speak slowly, but not so slowly 
that the language sounds unnatural or awkward. 

VOICE INFLECTION 

Avoid monotone recitation. If you sound bored, 
you will project that boredom onto the audience. 
However, too much enthusiasm can make your 
performance seem insincere. 

POSTURE AND PRESENCE 

Use good posture and be attentive. 
Look confident. 

EVIDENCE OF UNDERSTANDING 

Be sure you know the meaning and correct 
pronunciation of every word and line in your 
poem. If you are unsure about something, it 
will be apparent to the audience. Don't hesitate 
to ask your teacher for help. 

PRONUNCIATION 

Make sure you know how to pronounce or sign 
every word in your poem. Articulate. 

GESTURES 

Depending on the poem, gestures and some 
amount of movement may be appropriate 
and should be encouraged, as long as they are 
not overdone. 



EYE CONTACT 

Engage your audience. Look them in the eye. 
If you have trouble with that, focus past them to 
the far wall, but try not to keep your head down. 

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY 

The difficulty of the poem you perform will be 
gauged, taking into account length, diction, and 
density of language. It is strongly recommended 
that students who compete beyond the classroom 
level select poems of various style, time period, 
and voice. That diversity of selection will offer a 
richer and more complete performance. 

OVERALL PERFORMANCE 

Contest judges will evaluate the overall success 
of your performance. 

ACCURACY 

A separate judge will mark missed or incorrect 
words made during the recitation. If you rely on 
the Prompter too much, points may be subtracted 
from your accuracy score. (As many as four 
points may be subtracted.) 



A note to students on interpretation: Listen 
to the track on the audio CD in which poet 
David Mason introduces Yeats' "The Lake Isle 
of Innisfree." In his comments, he advises you 
to think about how you should interpret the 
tone and volume and voice of your poem. Is it 
a quiet poem? Is it a boisterous poem? Should it 
be read more quickly or slowly, with a happy 
or mournful tone? Your interpretation will be 
different for each poem, and it is a crucial 
element of your performance. 



14 POETRY OUT LOUD 



CONTEST EVALUATION SHEET 



NAME OF PERFORMER 



TITLE OF POEM 



WEAK 



FAIR 



GOOD 



EXCELLENT 



Volume 

Speed 

Voice Inflection 

Posture and Presence 

Evidence of Understanding 

Pronunciation 

Gestures 

Eye Contact 

Level of Difficulty 

Overall Performance 



2 
2 
2 
2 
2 
2 
2 
2 
2 
2 



3 

3 

3 

3 ' 

3 

3 

3 

3 

3 

3 



4 
4 
4 
4 
4 
4 
4 
4 
4 
4 



TOTAL 



ACCURACY (SUBTRACT UP TO 4 POINTS) 



FINAL SCORE 



[PHOTOCOPY THIS PAGE AS NECESSARY] 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 15 



f. 




YUSEF K 



What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, 
I have forgotten, and what arms have Iain 
Under my head till morning. 



EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY 




16 POETRY OUT LOUD 



NCTE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS STANDARDS 



Poetry Out Loud fulfills the following NCTE Standards: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Teachers who make 
use of the optional writing activities and lesson plans found at www.poetryoutIoud.org will also satisfy 
Standard #5. 



1 Students read a wide range of print and 
non-print texts to build an understanding 
of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures 
of the United States and the world; to acquire 
new information; to respond to the needs 
and demands of society and the workplace; 
and for personal fulfillment. Among these 
texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and 
contemporary works. 

2 Students read a wide range of literature 
from many periods in many genres to build 
an understanding of the many dimensions 
(e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) 

of human experience. 

3 Students apply a wide range of strategies 
to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and 
appreciate texts. They draw on their prior 
experience, their interactions with other 
readers and writers, their knowledge of 
word meaning and of other texts, their 
word identification strategies, and their 
understanding of textual features (e.g., 
sound-letter correspondence, sentence 
structure, context, graphics). 

4 Students adjust their use of spoken, written, 
and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, 
vocabulary) to communicate effectively 
with a variety of audiences and for different 
purposes. 

5 Students employ a wide range of strategies as 
they write and use different writing process 
elements appropriately to communicate with 
different audiences for a variety of purposes. 

6 Students apply knowledge of language 
structure, language conventions (e.g., 



spelling and punctuation), media techniques, 
figurative language, and genre to create, 
critique, and discuss print and non-print texts. 

7 Students conduct research on issues and 
interests by generating ideas and questions, 
and by posing problems. They gather, 
evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety 
of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, 
artifacts, people) to communicate their 
discoveries in ways that suit their purpose 
and audience. 

8 Students use a variety of technological 
and information resources (e.g., libraries, 
databases, computer networks, video) 

to gather and synthesize information and 
to create and communicate knowledge. 

9 Students develop an understanding of 
and respect for diversity in language use, 
patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic 
groups, geographic regions, and social roles. 

10 Students whose first language is not English 
make use of their first language to develop 
competency in the English language arts and 
to develop understanding of content across 
the curriculum. 

11 Students participate as knowledgeable, 
reflective, creative, and critical members 
of a variety of literacy communities. 

12 Students use spoken, written, and visual 
language to accomplish their own purposes 
(e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, 
and the exchange of information). 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 17 



To pray you open your whole self 
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon 
To one whole voice that is you. 

JOY HARJO 




18 POETRY OUT LOUD 



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