February is a great time to incorporate an oral language component into your lessons and invite students to memorize and recite a poem by an African American poet. This assignment lists several to get you started.
To increase confidence and decrease apprehension, give the students the grading criteria when you make the assignment. Among criteria to use for grading an oral project are posture, gestures, volume, rate, articulation, and interpretation. If you have access to technology, direct them to sites of students reciting or performing poetry. Try for a range of presentations to students will see that there are a number of styles that can be effective.
Consider directing their attention to we sites showing poets performing their own work. You’ll find several on youtube and from the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.
Assignment for African American Poets Recitation Project
Poetry Performance Rubric from ReadWriteThink Website
Or, invite students to write their own story about a family member, like I did in this Poem with Pictures about my grandfather.