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Passion for Poetry Drives Forsyth Academy Teacher to Promote Slam

Poetry has provided Elonda Watson with joy for many years. Memories of her daughter performing at poetry slams with a community group have guided the Forsyth Academy at risk teacher to introduce her students to the practice as a tool to build confidence.
 A student recites his poem
A student recites his poem.

Watson has been offering the opportunity for students to perform on and off for about 10 years and has seen many students come out of their shells because of it. It’s one reason why Forsyth outperforms the local district.
The lesson begins with scholars watching videos of other students performing poetry. Watson chooses videos that relate easily to her students to help inspire their creative ideas.
“Usually this is the lesson that sparks their interest, and throughout the quarter, scholars are taught how to incorporate the elements of poetry to write and perform their own piece,” she said.
 student preforming their poem
A student performs “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes.

Students learn how to identify all the poetic devices: figurative language, sound devices, structures/forms, and theme/meaning. The next quarter is spent analyzing and writing original poems across different genres. Finally, they choose one of their pieces or a piece from a well-known poet, memorize it, choose props, and practice presenting it. 
“We spend a lot of time practicing the show to ensure all scholars are confident and ready,” Watson said. “I personally go through the process with my students by writing an original piece of work myself and I always set the example by being the first to present at the Poetry Slam.”
 student reading her poem
A student recites her poem.

One of Watson’s favorite portions of this year’s show was when a student performed "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes, one of her favorite poems. Another scholar performed one of his original poems, which was entertaining and loved by the crowd.

“I am currently preparing a group of eighth grade scholars for a slam, and for the first time, we are performing a collaboration of all their original poems put together into a script,” Watson said. “I can't wait to see how it turns out.”
Teacher Elonda Watson recites a poem
Teacher Elonda Watson recites a poem.
Great work promoting a new way for scholars to express themselves, Mrs. Watson!

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About Forsyth Academy
Forsyth Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes over 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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