Our Upper School participated in this program for the first time last year, and we thought it was a roaring success. My colleague Jennifer just signed us up again for this year, so I have been thinking about ways to make sure it is as successful this year as last -- the newness is gone, so how do we keep the energy up? Have any of you done this competition? Any insight into what works very well for you? Any insight into what the state and national judges are really looking for?
Here is what I think worked best for us:
1. All Upper School English teachers memorized a poem, and we all recited at the all-school meeting where we introduced the contest. I found I could then really talk with my students about the challenges yet benefits of poetry memorization and recitation.
2. All Upper School students were required in their English classes to prepare and recite a poem. This got everyone involved.
3. The whole Upper School was the audience for our class winners competing to be the school winner. Since everyone had memorized a poem, they all understood what those on stage were up against.