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A SLAM Poetry Workshop: An Introduction to Social Justice

In this slam poetry workshop students will learn about the history of slam poetry, its role in social political movements, as well as the elements of performative expression.
Melissa Vargas
1 total review for this teacher
New class
Β Β There are no upcoming classes.
75 minutes
per class
Meets once
year olds
learners per class
per learner

How does a "One-Time" class work?

Meets once at a scheduled time
Live video chat, recorded and monitored for safety and quality
Great for exploring new interests and different styles of teachers

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Class Experience

Students will learn how to create SLAM poetry using literary text, and videos of live performances.
Students will learn how to collaborate with their peers on creating social justice literary work.
Students will learn how to analyze text, and performance, thus make connections through critical group discussions.
Students will learn how to create and perform poetry through movement, and vocal performance.
My experiences working with a diverse youth population includes 6 years of researching, designing, and implementing cultural arts, creative writing and wellness programming as a Youth Project Coordinator and Academic Counselor for high school retention programs in Central New York. I have worked and received training from a variety of local and national cultural arts organizations, such as the Dominican Writers Association (NYC) the National Association for Latino Arts and Culture, Heroes of Color by David Heredia  and Creciendo Juntos (Charlottesville, Virginia) to further enhance my cultural knowledge, and the learning experience of my students. In addition, I was invited to present my Master Thesis on restorative education standards at the Mujeres Activas Letras y Cambios Socialies National Conference (Berkley, California). 

In addition as a Youth Academic Counselor for both residential and in-school programs I have assisted youth with navigating their individual education plans, and post-secondary education plans. Through this experience I received comprehensive training through Binghamton University's Social Work Program on classroom management, teaching through a trauma-informed and social justice framework.

I have also attend the Decolonize Birth Conference hosted by Ancient Song Doula (NYC) for 3 consecutive years to explore the different decolonial traditions and practices that uplift black and brown students, and promote equity in the arts, education, and health care systems. In addition, I have received training from the National Sex Education Conference during my time as a sex educator. Through this conference I received comprehensive training on sexuality education, fundamental life skills training and social-emotional learning.
Lastly, I have attended several creative writing workshops through multiple organizations, such as Writing our Lives, and the Dominican Writers Association. I am currently a second-degree bachelor student, studying Latin American History, and Religious Cultural Studies and have traveled to the Dominican Republic, Cape Town, South Africa, Saint Maarten, and Mexico conducting field research in religious cultural studies, and community agriculture.  
Students are encouraged to research a poet that resonates with their values, and personal social-justice themes, recite one of their poems, and voice record/ video record their performance. Students are not obligated to share this with me or their peers, rather, it is an exercise to help them practice performance, expression, and engage in an interactive reflection process.
Students will need to purchase/ seek a copy of Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedos and read through the text before class. You may purchase the paperback version of the book via for as low as $12. For a brief summary of the literature, check out, and type in Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedos. Watch Slam Poetry Performances performed by Elizabeth Acevedos on Watch Youth Speaks YouTube Channel - featuring over 500 youth across the world performing center stage at the 21st Annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival for a week of workshops, poetry slam, performances, and civic engagement in Las Vegas, Nevada. Headphones will be needed for the curated Spotify playlist, and the music video analysis activity. The Spotify playlist will be shared through a screen-sharing feature, therefore an account for Spotify is not needed/ required.
Students are required to participate in order to get the most out of this SLAM poetry workshop, therefore please consider this prior to registering. Students will be invited to share/ perform their poetry in class. 
1 hour 15 minutes per week in class, and an estimated 2 - 4 hours per week outside of class.
Please be aware that the YA Novel, Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, and the SLAM poetry performances may include, and is not limited to the following themes:
Body shaming
Sexual harassment & unwanted touching
Parental abuse
Parental abandonment mentioned
Panic attacks
Recreational drug use
Alcohol abuse recounted
Minor physical injuries
Infertility themes & difficult childbirth mentioned
*Religion is used in this text to justify abusive behavior.

Given that the text does include a variety of sensitive themes, I will be allocating time and space for independent reflection writing and  discussion for any questions students may have/ feelings they would like to unpack. If a student is need of additional resources, I have created a self-care resource sheet that includes videos, and art activities to help with the reflection process.  Please note, we will not be reviewing each theme in the book, rather exploring how slam poetry is utilized by the author, as a literary tool for expressing these complex emotions, and confronting topics. We explore the structure of slam poetry as well as performance delivery. Students will engage with a few of the themes as a source of inspiration/ writing prompt when we reach our writing exercises and discussion. 

All YouTube videos, and music will be viewed through a screen-sharing feature, therefore an account will not be needed for any of the external resources used in this workshop.
Poet X, Written by Elizabeth Acevedos 
Slam Poetry Performances performed by Elizabeth Acevedos on Youtube
Youth Speaks YouTube Channel - featuring over 500 youth across the world performing center stage at the 21st Annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival for a week of workshops, poetry slam, performances, and civic engagement in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Students will choose an iconic protest song from the playlist I have made via which reflects a mix of the Harlem Renaissance period, the civil rights movement,  the 1980s & 90s, as well as some contemporary movements. Students are encouraged to analyze the message and music video, and engage in critical discussions. Playlist is listed in the external resources section below.


Melissa Vargas
Lives in the United States
Zine Educator, Mixed-media Artist, Creative Writer
1 total review
1 completed class

About Me

Melissa Vargas, a graduate of SUNY Poly Institute of Technology (Utica, New York) graduated with a Bachelors in Sociology, and a Masters from SUNY Binghamton University in Public Administration. She pursued her passion for teaching through...Β 
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