Brooks Middle School 7th graders are being encouraged to write poems about what’s important to them in their daily lives. Spoken Word teaching artist Mo Santiago, one of our latest Oak Park Education Foundation additions to the team, led last week’s class with exercises titled “Respect the Mic”, “No Judgements” and “Laugh When Necessary”. “My job is help them share their stories and use their voices and feel heard,” said Santiago. 

This week they’ll write stories about their lives and turn them into poems. They’ll listen to a song from “Hamilton”, the award-winning musical by Lin Manuel Miranda. Students will also discuss line breaks and how moving one word around can create two lines out of one, as well as two different meanings.

“It’s one of my favorite days, because this poem is usually a story and one that they’ve been dying to tell.”, said Spoken Word instructor Mo Santiago. “Once they’ve written everything down. the rest of the week will be a matter of re-shaping and editing. They’ll also be doing a lot of peer-editing. This is important because they won’t just be sharing their pieces with one another, but they’ll be sharing a piece of themselves.”

Santiago, who is a former Brooks Middle School student herself, emphasized that this is their opportunity to get to know each other in a new light. As the current teaching artist for OPEF, Mo hopes to provide young writers with the tools they need to start their own dialogues and express themselves in new ways. We’re grateful to have Mo on board and we know her students are, too, as we saw many faces light up during her class poetry prompts.