World Poetry Slam champion and educator Kat François shares her top tips for using spoken word poetry in the classroom

Date Created: 9th Feb 2021

Kat Francois performing spoken word poetry on stage at Artswork's Creativity and Life Chances Conference in 2017

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South East teachers on their Artsmark journeys were treated to the first of two, free, online, Spoken Word Poetry CPD sessions on Monday 25th January, led by poetry powerhouse Kat François.
With over 20 years of experience working with children and young people as a drama and poetry facilitator, Kat shared her tips and tricks for getting even the coolest of kids to give poetry a go, citing ways of eliminating the fear of a blank page with some fun, simple, word generation games.

In association with Apples and Snakes, these professional development sessions have been designed to give Artsmark-aspiring setting staff the confidence to deliver their own spoken word poetry lessons – injecting creativity into the curriculum. During this first session, Kat identified some great ways to keep learners engaged, whether working online, in-person or through a blended learning approach, providing a set of brilliant exercises suitable for all ages and contexts. To help set teachers up for success, attendees have been invited to join both a practical session (taking place on 25th of January or 9th February) and a follow-up evaluation session (10th March or 23rd March).

Exercises in Kat’s toolbox included poetry writing in various structures using techniques such as colour and imagery association, as well as Japanese Haiku poems. Teachers were very enthusiastic about the session:

‘I now have a pocketful of practical examples I can use, both online and back in the classroom.’

‘I found this course fantastic and exciting, I have many ideas now to take forward.’

Kat suggested using these tips and tricks in literacy and music lessons, but also as a means of exploring pupil wellbeing and encouraging self-expression. Attendees themselves created some beautiful poetry using the words ‘emotions’, ‘shine’, ‘complete’ and ‘summer’ helping to boost their own wellbeing:

‘When Summer is on it’s way, I start to shine, The birds the flowers are all starting to sing and dance, the feeling of emotion in the world of wonder is complete’

‘Complete. That’s how I feel when you’re around. Tossed in a sea of emotions, you are my land, my sun. You shine, my summer.’

‘Bursting with happy emotions, my heart feels complete. A perfect summer’s day…I knew the sun would shine. I’m off to the beach’ 

‘As days go by, you feel your emotions, waiting around for love and devotion, when he was around he stole your shine, always reminding you “you are mine” time went away, nothing felt complete, you soul burning bright now bringing the heat. Wandering through the mind, waiting for summer, moments go by and my heart is the drummer!’

Following this, participants were presented with a final task in groups, allowing them to connect with others on their Artsmark journey and design their own workshop using the skills they had learnt. The follow-up session will be taking place later in the month giving attendees the chance to share their experiences having put their new skills to practice. In addition, each attendee received an exclusive resource booklet, created by Artswork and Apples and Snakes, jam-packed with poetry examples, lesson plans and much more.

Awarded by Arts Council England, Artsmark supports schools and education settings to embed arts, culture and creativity in their curriculum. For more information about Artsmark, click here.

For more information on BBC4 Poetry Slam Champion Kat François, including details of her latest project Grenadian Granny kids club, visit https://www.katfrancois.com/

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Artsmark For teachers poetry

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