Slam Poetry

by Scott Savage


Slam Poetry



Scott Savage


Unit Objective

Students will consider their own inner thoughts and how they express those things by writing and performing a slam poem.


Previous Experience

Students have had some exposure to performing and working with small groups for performances, monologues, and basic script analysis.


This unit was created for an intermediate class that was 85-minutes long.





TH:Cr1.1.II. C.

Use personal experiences and knowledge to develop a character that is believable and authentic in a drama/theatre work.


TH:Cr3.1.II. B

Use research and script analysis to revise physical, vocal, and physiological choices impacting the believability and relevance of a drama/ theatre work.


TH:Pr4.1.II. A.

Discover how unique choices shape believable and sustainable drama/ theatre work.


TH:Pr6.1.II. A.

Present a drama/theatre work using creative processes that shape the production for a specific audience


TH:Re9.1.II. C.

Verify how a drama/theatre work communicates for a specific purpose and audience.


TH:Cn11.1.II. A

Integrate conventions and knowledge from different art forms and other disciplines to develop a cross cultural drama/theatre work.


Big Ideas:

  • Performance is Personal.
  • Truly connecting with a character requires that we become vulnerable with these characters.
  • We use tactics to get what we want. Sometimes these are things layered directly in the text, and sometimes they are things that we need to be able to extract.
  • Rehearsal and Revising are the processes that make a good work into a great work — no matter the present format or condition of the work
  • I need to be both mindful of my audience with my art, and a mindful audience member of art.


Essential Questions (EQ)

  • What does it mean to be vulnerable as a performer?
  • What is the process of creating my own written work?
  • How do I revise my writing when it is so personal?
  • How do I know how to connect with my audience?
    What makes slam poetry different than any other kind(s) of performance?
  • How do I value my own performances?
  • What are objectives and tactics, and how can they be achieved when I’m the only person speaking?


Enduring Understandings (EU)

  • A meaningful performance has a specific audience in mind. While there may be others who benefit from the message of the performance, often, the goal is to say something to a specific group or demographic.
  • Each character always has a goal. How they go about achieving that goal is a tactic. Different characters with the same goal may use different tactics, and a single character may also attempt many tactics to achieve their goal.
  • Work that is shared is work that can be improved upon. You need to be willing to adapt even the things you like most.
  • Being emotionally responsible while maintaining vulnerability as a performer is a difficult balance.
  • Emotional responsibility means knowing and understanding your limits of what you can and should talk about in a specific context (in our case, the classroom).
  • Being vulnerable as a character means knowing what the character has difficulty revealing, and revealing it to the audience in a way that asks them to support you.
  • Each person has their own success criteria. Considering what a successful performance looks like to you should inform your own process of selecting success criteria.


Key Assessments

  • Writing and Performing of contentless scenes.
  • Writing and Revising of Slam Poetry
  • Performing and Self-evaluating Slam Poetry
  • Transferring written word into physical image or tableau.
  • Participation in self-discovery activities.



Lesson #1:    Objectives and Tactics

ObjectiveStudents will demonstrate a basic understanding of objectives by participating in activities that require choices to be made.


Lesson #2: Contentless Objectives and Tactics

Objective: Students will explore how to achieve an emotional objective through a partner using tactics in contentless scenes.


Lesson #3: Slam Poetry Centers

Objective: Students will explore how to achieve an emotional objective through a partner using tactics in contentless scenes.


Lesson #4:  Shaping your Poem

ObjectiveStudents will use Uta Hagen’s questions and tableaux to develop ideas for their Slam Poems.


Lesson #5: Revising Your Work

ObjectiveStudents will use peer feedback to enhance their poems to prepare for their final performances.


Lesson #6: Setting the Stage

Objective: Students will collaborate with their peers on how to make sure their audiences are ready for their poems.


Lesson #7: Slam Poem Performances

Objective: Students will perform their Slam Poems and evaluate themselves based on the collaborative rubric from the last class.


Slam Poetry Unit of Lessons.Scott Savage