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Spanish Language Poetry Slam
Inspires Presentation at Conference.

Red WaspCollaboration   11-15-11

By Freddie A. Bowles
Fayetteville, Arkansas

This week I will be traveling with one of my colleagues, Jessica Fay Sliger, to the annual conference of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in Denver, Colorado.  This year's theme, "Empowering Language Educators Through Collaboration," aligns perfectly with the collaborative project Jessica and I created last year for native speakers of Spanish in the Rogers, Arkansas, School District.

On Saturday, November 19, Jessica and I will present "Teacher, Professor, and Students Collaborate on L1/L2 Literacy in an SNS Class."  Our presentation will be one of 786 sessions offered from Thursday through Sunday at the Colorado Convention Center.  Links to several documents related to the presentation are available at the bottom of this article, including our PowerPoint, Cruzando Fronteras: Voices Crossing Borders.

Issues, Changes, Challenges

Dr. Milton Chen, senior fellow and executive director emeritus at the George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF), will be the keynote speaker at the conference, which is expected to draw over 7,000 foreign language teachers, students, educators, and researchers interested in learning more about current issues, changes, and challenges in our profession.

One of the vital pieces in my collaboration with Jessica was a Spanish language poetry slam, the first in our area for high school students.  Forty-seven students competed in the slam. Several went on to win competitions at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith (UAFS).  Ten of our poets were published in the UAFS Azahares journal, and two were featured in an anthology published by Arkansas State University.

An article about the poetry slam was published in the ARKTESOL Post of Winter/Spring 2011.  The text follows.

Poetry Slam Is Culminating Event
For a Humanities Council Mini-Grant.

A Spanish-language poetry slam featuring 47 heritage speakers of Spanish from Rogers High School was the culminating event (15 Oct 2010) for an Arkansas Humanities Council Education Mini-Grant for Hispanic and Latino Learners awarded to Freddie Bowles, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Arkansas, and Jessica Fay Sliger, Spanish teacher at Rogers High School. They designed the grant to focus on both English language and Spanish language literacy skills and technology competency.

Bowles and Sliger created a poetry unit designed to promote literacy in both English and Spanish for Sliger's "Spanish for Native Speakers" classes at both Rogers High School and Crossroads Alternative School. The theme of the unit, Cruzando Fronteras (Crossing Borders), gave students the opportunity to reflect on their own experiences as students of Latino heritage. Students listened to and read a variety of poems that explored the topic of identity in both English and Spanish before writing their own name poems, bio poems and free-verse poems.

who am I?

The poetry slam at Rogers High School offered students the opportunity to showcase their poems before an audience of peers, parents and guests. Four Spanish language professionals were invited to judge: Mia Soler Fay of Joplin, Mo., daughter of a former poet laureate of Colombia; Lisa Thrailkill, Rogers High School Spanish teacher; Tammie Peterson, Spanish teacher for the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts and president of the Arkansas American Association of Spanish and Portuguese Teachers; and Veronica Farfan-Leal, Master of Arts in Teaching intern at the University of Arkansas.

The University of Arkansas Bookstore donated prizes for the winners and gifts for the judges, and the Rogers Walmart store on Walnut donated funds to buy frames for each student's poem. Food for the event was provided by Acambaro restaurant and Pupuseria Salvadoreño #3, both in Rogers.

The Best, the Most Passionate,
and the Most Creative

Students competed in three categories: Best Overall, Most Passionate, and Most Creative, with three places in each category.

In Best Overall, first place was awarded to Emily Portillo, second to Ivan Soto, and third to Kandi García.

In Most Passionate, first place went to Melvin Cierra Jr., second to Kandi García, and third to Edgar Rivera.

In Most Creative, first place winner was Erika Castillo, second place was Morena Valdizón, and third Jesús García.

Our Student Poets Win More Awards.

The top 20 students were invited to participate in the Spanish Festival at UA Fort Smith on Oct. 19. Sliger's students won first, second, third, and fourth places, a sweep, in the poetry slam competition at the event with first place awarded to Mario Almaraz, second to Palama Guadarrama, third to Jesús García, and Honorable Mention to Kandi García. Students' poems will be published in Azahares, the UAFS Spanish literary journal.


purplebatCruzando Fronteras: Voices Crossing Borders
ACTFL 2011 Presentation PowerPoint  (.ppt)

purplebatPoetry Slam 101
ACTFL 2011 Presentation Handout  (.pdf)

purplebat¡Soy un Poeta!
Creating a Bio Poem  (.ppt)

purplebatBio Poem Activity / REACH Project
Lesson Plan  (.pdf)

purplebatDiamond Poem Activity / SNS Classes
Lesson Plan  (.pdf)

purplebatSponsor Letter for Funding
Cruzando Fronteras Poetry Slam   (.pdf)

purplebatPoetry Slam Flyer
Display Ad   (.pdf)

purplebatDramatic Elements
Rubric for Judges   (.pdf)

purplebatOriginality and Thoughtful Expression
Rubric for Judges   (.pdf)

purplebatPersonal Connection to the Poem
Rubric for Judges   (.pdf)

purplebatStage Presence
Rubric for Judges   (.pdf)


Judges and helpers for the Poetry Slam
were Tammie Peterson, Mia Soler,
and Tristan Peterson (seated); Veronica Farfan-Leal,
Jessica Fay, and Freddie Bowles (standing).

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