ICS Grade 10 Language and Literature students participated in a virtual workshop with Spoken Word Poet Kat Francois on 1 December.
As part of the “Spoken Word Poetry” curricular unit of Grade 10 English classes, Kat François, a poet and spoken word artist from the UK, joined the students in the English Language and Literature classes for a virtual workshop on Tuesday 1 December.
Kat François is a performance artist, theatre director and producer, poet, actor, and playwright. A youth and adult educator, Kat was the first person to win a televised poetry slam in the UK on BBC 3 in 2004, and went on to win the World Slam Poetry Championships in Rotterdam a year later.
Culminating their middle school study of poetry, the Grade 10 students’ learning objectives focus on understanding and appreciating spoken word poetry. The students are seeing language and literature as a means to convey real emotion, raise awareness, and provoke change. They are also being asked to use language and performance techniques, some of the specific conventions of spoken word poetry, in their own writing.
Kat Francois’ Spoken Word Performance Workshop included tongue twister warm ups and a review of performance elements such as clarity, pace, emotion, voice projection, movement, eye contact and confidence. Her “Performance Tips” gave students advice on how to combat nerves with breathing exercise and mindfulness, how to add rhythm, repetition and audience participation to a performance, and very importantly, students were encouraged to believe in themselves and in their work because “Everyone has a right to be heard.”
In her presentation, Kat even included suggestions for performing while wearing a mask, asking students to think about being expressive with their eyes, using their hands and projecting their voices more than they normally would, or even incorporating a mask in some way by writing on it or using it as a prop.
The Grade 10 students were motivated and engaged throughout the entire workshop: It gave them food for thought for their own poetry and some of their reflections following the workshop included comments such as, “Kat was wonderful and her workshop really helped me develop more thoughts I can add to my poem while keeping in mind techniques I can use to further improve my poetry.” “The session was fantastic. I love how engaging it was and I've learned so much from Ms. Francois.”