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Poetry Slam:
PowerPoint Style


  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
    -- Dance, Music
    -- Visual Arts


  • 6-8
  • 9-12
  • Advanced

Brief Description

Students select poems, create PowerPoint presentations that use graphics and text to enhance those poems, and then display their presentations as they read their poems aloud.


Students will

  • demonstrate understanding of the themes of a poem.
  • choose art, photos, sound, quotes, and so on to create a multimedia presentation based upon their understanding of those themes.
  • read a poem aloud while displaying the slide show.


poetry, PowerPoint, multimedia

Materials Needed

  • Poem of the student's choice.
  • Student access to PowerPoint program.
  • Projector or TV monitor connected to a computer (for presentation of final slide show to class).

Lesson Plan

Make your next poetry reading an event they won't forget. Students select a poem and then enhance the poem and add their own interpretation of it with art, photos, sound, quotes, questions, and more that demonstrate an understanding of the poem's themes.

Prior to the lesson, students should have read a number of poems and looked for themes within those poems. They also should have created at least one basic PowerPoint presentation, and be familiar with inserting pictures and sounds, creating new slides, and adding backgrounds or slide templates. Finally, students should be aware of copyright issues and have experience citing electronic resources on the Web.

Introduce the lesson by announcing that the class will hold a poetry reading (or poetry slam) in which each student, in addition to reading a poem aloud, will display during the reading a PowerPoint presentation relating to the poem.

Some students might be familiar with the movie "So I Married An Axe Murderer," which is available on VHS tape or DVD. The opening scene in that movie shows the main character reading a poem at a coffeehouse accompanied by a slide show and jazz musicians. Showing the clip might help students visualize the final product, but be sure to first check your school's policy on showing movies in the classroom and to preview yourself the scene from this particular PG-13 movie.

Help students select a poem to read at the event. Some criteria to consider include whether the poem

  • contains only school-appropriate language and themes.
  • is long enough to provide a wealth of imagery for the slide show, but short enough to be read aloud in 5 minutes or less.
  • "speaks" to students (is relevant, excites or interests them in some way).

Have students read their selected poems and then brainstorm to identify the main images, themes, issues, and so on contained within the text. You might encourage students to use the Literary Graffiti tool from the National Council for Teachers of English to help in the brainstorming process. Aim for 7-12 ideas.

Next, have students turn in a one-page proposal for the slide show. Included in the proposal should be:

  • the poem's title and author.
  • questions the student has about the language or content of the poem.
  • Seven to twelve themes/ elements from the poem that will be included in the PowerPoint show. Each idea will become a separate slide, so students also should state how they plan to depict each. For example, if innocence is one theme, students might write, "I will represent the theme of innocence with a picture of a happy, young girl holding a flower." Remind students that they can use photos, art, sound, and other media.

    Once you have read and approved each proposal, have students begin creating their PowerPoint shows. Allow students to be creative, using whatever graphic or audio elements best apply to the poem. Remind them that slides cannot restate the actual text of the poem, but rather must represent, interpret, and extend the poem. Students should have as many slides as they have themes, and slides should be in the same order the themes occur within the poem.

    Make sure students also include sources for photos, sounds, or other elements they do not create themselves. You might want students to turn in a bibliography: the Citation Machine is an excellent tool for citing electronic resources in MLA format.

    Monitor the creation of the PowerPoint presentations. To help both students as they create the show and yourself as you grade it, you might use a rubric, such as this one from When each slide show is completed, have students e-mail or otherwise save their presentations so they can be opened and projected from a classroom computer.

    Make sure enough classroom time is available (or assign it for homework) for students to practice reading their poems while clicking through the slides. While presenting, students should focus on the poem or the audience, not on the slide show.

    Make the poetry reading day extra special by moving desks aside and bringing in chairs, beanbags, or pillows for lounging on. Coffee and snacks will add to the atmosphere, as will soft jazz played before and/or after the readings. You might even invite other classes, parents, or administrators to the reading. Have students read their poems aloud as they display their PowerPoint presentations. This Oral Presentation Rubric might be helpful as you evaluate each student's performance.


    Students will be assessed by their
    • understanding of a poem's themes as demonstrated in the completed PowerPoint slide show.
    • effective use of graphics, sound, and other media elements in the PowerPoint slide show.

    Lesson Plan Submitted By Lorrie Jackson

    National Standards

    FINE ARTS: Music
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NA-M.5-8.8 Understanding Relationships Between Music, Other Arts, and Disciplines Outside the Arts
    NA-M.5-8.9 Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture
    GRADES 9 - 12
    Relationships Between Music, Other Arts, and Disciplines Outside the Arts
    NA-M.9-12.9 Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture

    FINE ARTS: Theatre

    FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
    NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies