In the South Bronx, the birthplace of hip hop, the art of spitting rhymes is alive and well—in the form of competitive performance poetry. Local nonprofit Global Writes teaches middle and high school students the fine art of the poetry slam by bringing working poets into English classes for 32-week sessions. Students as young as 12 become fully engaged in the writing process because they get to write about the things they care about—everything from the poverty and obesity in their community to their families. Along the way, their confidence, critical analysis skills, and performance and public speaking abilities skyrocket.
Schools with the program—they're now in three cities in six states—show improved attendance, gains in writing test scores, and more motivated students. Jesica Blandon, a student at Dream Yard Preparatory School told Edutopia that "When you find out that words can actually change the world, and the words that change the world come from you, it makes you feel so important." You can watch Blandon and other students slam in the video above.