Can teachers use spoken word poetry as a tool for literacy, empowerment, engagement, education, and community building across content areas?
Poet, performer, and educator Sarah Kay says absolutely, YES! Sarah is a founder and co-director of Project VOICE, an organization that uses spoken word poetry to entertain, educate, and inspire. Through Project VOICE, Sarah is dedicated to promoting empowerment, improving literacy, and encouraging empathy and creative collaboration in classrooms and communities around the world.
On this episode of Tch Talks, Sarah discusses the origin story of Project VOICE, her own introduction to spoken word poetry, and her work as a poet, an educator, and a bestselling author. Whether speaking from her heart or from her head, Sarah believes that spoken word poetry can be an important educational tool that will have a lasting positive impact on your students’ motivation, creativity, self-esteem, agency, and their desire to share their own stories and listen to the stories of others. Listen in to find out more.
Sarah Kay is a poet, performer, and educator from New York City who has been performing her spoken word poetry since she was 14 years old. She is perhaps best known for her talk at the 2011 TED conference, which garnered two standing ovations and has been viewed over ten million times online. In that talk, Sarah recounts the story of her metamorphosis from a wide-eyed teenager soaking in verse in New York City, to a teacher who connects young people with the power of self-expression through her organization Project VOICE. A gifted artist and breathtaking performer, Sarah empowers audiences of any age and background to embrace vulnerability, creativity, and community.
Sarah has been invited to share her work on such diverse stages as the Malthouse Theater in Melbourne, Australia; The Royal Danish Theater in Copenhagen, Denmark; the United Nations, Carnegie Hall, and Apollo Theater in New York City; among hundreds of other venues. Sarah holds a Masters Degree in The Art of Teaching from Brown University and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Grinnell College. She is the author of four books of poetry: No Matter the Wreckage (Write Bloody, 2014) – an Amazon Bestseller in American Poetry; B (Hachette Books, 2015) – ranked #1 Poetry Book on Amazon; The Type (Hachette Books, 2016); and All Our Wild Wonder (Hachette Books, 2018). Sarah’s poems and articles have been published in CURA Magazine, The Writer Magazine, Thrush, Treehouse Magazine, Union Station Magazine, the Huffington Post, CNN.com, and many more.
A passionate educator, Sarah has worked with education organizations like the National Association of Independent Schools, the International Baccalaureate Organization, the European Council of International Schools, the Association of International Schools in Africa, and the American Montessori Society, among many others, in order to further the work of Project VOICE: celebrating and inspiring self-expression, championing vulnerability, aiding empowerment, challenging traditional notions of literacy, and expanding access to arts education. Through her work with Project VOICE, Sarah has taught students of all ages, in classrooms and workshops all over the world. For more about Sarah, check out her website. And click here to find out more about the entire Project VOICE team. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @kaysarahsera.
- Sarah Kay
- How Many Lives Can You Live? by Sarah Kay at TEDxEast
- If I should have a daughter… by Sarah Kay at TED2011
- Project VOICE
- Spoken-Word Poets Bring Words to Life for Students via EdWeek
- Video Playlist: National Poetry Month! via Sarah Kay on YouTube
- Spoken Word Poetry Guide for Teachers – Resources for Writers via TEDEd
- No Matter the Wreckage: Poems by Sarah Kay
- B: A Poem by Sarah Kay
- The Type: A Poem by Sarah Kay
- All Our Wild Wonder: A Poem by Sarah Kay
- Poetry Open Mic
- Exploring Poetic Elements
- Analyzing Poetry: Imagery & Emotions
- Poetry Workstations
- Taylor Mali: Undivided Attention
- Taylor Mali: I Teach for the Fire
- Taylor Mali: What Do Teachers Make?
- Taylor Mali: Miracle Workers
- Taylor Mali: In My Middle School
- Creating Found Poems
Spoken Word Poetry Resources:
- 5-Minute Film Festival: The Power of Spoken Word Poetry via Edutopia
- Louder Than A Bomb
- Youth Speaks
- Global Writes
- Lesson Plan: Crossing Boundaries Through Bilingual, Spoken-Word Poetry via ReadWriteThink
- Song of Myself: Spoken Word Poetry in the Classroom, by Shannon Reed via Visual Thesaurus
- 5 Reasons Why You Should Bring Spoken Word Into Your Classroom, via Funky Pedagogy
- Video Playlist: Classroom Friendly Poems via Button Poetry on YouTube
- 10 Tips for Teaching Hip Hop and Spoken Word Poetry by Brian Mooney
- Why I Dropped Everything and Started Teaching Kendrick Lamar’s New Album by Brian Mooney
- Part 2: High School Students Write Essays on Kendrick Lamar’s Album, To Pimp a Butterfly by Brian Mooney
- 25+ Slam Poems Appropriate for Middle School and High School via Teacher Off Duty
- Spoken Word Poetry Videos via Penny Kittle
- Say the Word…Spoken Word Poetry, That Is. via Megan McClure on BloomBoard
Sarah’s newest release, All Our Wild Wonder: A Poem by Sarah Kay, is on sale now! And Sarah will be on tour for her new book through the spring. See the tour dates to find out when she will be in your neighborhood.