Reading, writing and performing poetry
Build communication skills...
through reading, writing and performing poetry on topics relevant to kids’ experiences.
to find and cultivate their unique voices for personal growth and civic engagement.
by creating a safe place for sharing personal stories and cultural understanding.
Connect to the larger world...
of Spoken Word through mentorship, showcases, and competitions.
creating articulate, engaged young people
Launched in Fall 2015, Spoken Word is a powerful and effective medium for fostering creativity and self-expression in young people.
Through both in-school residencies and extracurricular clubs, students learn to write and revise poems that reflect their own unique experiences, interests, and opinions. They then have opportunities to share their poetry in safe and supportive space.
Kids learn to collaborate creatively and to respond to each other’s work in a thoughtful and constructive manner.
The program consists of 3 main components:
- teacher professional development for 7th grade English Language Arts teachers at Brooks and Julian Middle Schools, as well as two Spoken Word club sponsors at each middle school
- week-long classroom residencies serving all 7th grade English Language Arts classes
- an extracurricular club open to all 6th, 7th, and 8th graders
We bring in teaching artists to co-facilitate our residencies and clubs. We partner with Oak Park River Forest High School’s stellar Spoken Word program, and high school students mentor our middle school Spoken Word club members.This year, we will attend the Louder Than A Bomb slam as audience members, will participate in community Open Mic opportunities, and will host a Julian vs. Brooks slam at the Oak Park School of Rock.
brings in teaching artists to mentor students
engages all students with topics relevant to their personal experiences
creates a strong classroom and school community
helps students find their unique voices and connects them to the wider world
"…the Spoken Word program spearheaded by OPEF makes me wish I was a 7th grader. ...I feel like my kid is attending a boutique middle school.”
"I liked how we got to speak in front of people and become more comfortable in front of an audience.”
Spoken Word Teaching Artist
“This art form is one that really gives these kids a voice—to be able to stand up and say ‘who I am.’ They don’t have the space to do that at this age.”
Spoken Word News
Fresh off their one-week in-school Spoken Word residency with Spoken Word artist Christian Robinson, Brooks’ seventh graders were eager to […]Read More ›
Our Spoken Word residencies are off to a great start. Our new spoken word artist, Christian Robinson, worked with […]Read More ›
National Poetry Month* is the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K-12 teachers, […]Read More ›
Join us on Tuesday, April 25th as Spoken Word club members from Gwendolyn Brooks and Percy Julian Middle Schools gather […]Read More ›
“We Can’t Do It Without You”
$250 Sponsors a week-long residency of a Spoken Word visiting artist.
In 2012, Jamael founded Impact Mākars, a spoken word organization at Northern Illinois University. Isaiah has a B.A. in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago where he conducted research on how poetry can enhance student engagement. He helped design the Spoken Word curriculum as a teaching artist and is thrilled to be able to further the work by serving as the Spoken Word coordinator
Frequently Asked Questions
More Information about OPEF Spoken Word
Seed funding for the launch of Spoken Word was provided by the Peter Traczyk Innovation Fund.