The Problem

Tracey finds it unacceptable that low literacy levels prevents students from sharing their ideas with a wider audience because they can’t structure their ideas and express themselves clearly. Her reality at the start of the year was that some of her students were disengaged and felt ‘silenced’ because they lacked the confidence to voice their opinions publicly. Tracey set about to change that reality for her learners, believing in a school where students are encouraged to collaborate, share ideas and then convey their ideas to others.

Tracey’s Solution

Tracey organised a poetry slam with students and local spoken word artists to encourage her learners to collaborate with one another, increasing their self-confidence when speaking publicly.

She asked staff at her school to provide her with the names of students in the lower 2 bands of literacy achievement in NAPLAN. She was specifically looking for kids who were disengaged, perhaps had low self-esteem, and who had the capacity to achieve better academically.

From a long short-list (what an oxymoron!?), 20 students were selected and invited to a series of spoken-word artist experiences. They had a workshop with a Brisbane-based artist and another workshop with an international spoken word poet, writing their own slam poetry.

The kids were invited to enter the SlamED Youth Final at the Brisbane Poetry Festival, and had an absolute ball!

Tracey’s Impact 

18 students have had their voice heard and 80% of those young people are asking Tracey to continue to run SlamED workshops next year. It is stories like this that pull on our heartstrings..

“One student with very low literacy levels who is very shy started writing her poem. Through collaboration with peers, she was reminded about her study of figurative language in English. The collaboration with her peers was low threat and encouraging. At one of our workshops, the international spoken word artist read it to the group on behalf of the student (she was too shy to do so). The delivery by the artist illustrated how her poem had transformed, shocking the author herself by how brilliant it sounded. There was a silence for several seconds after the reading, and then the room erupted into spontaneous applause. I could see her self-confidence improve immediately. I really want to develop this project to see more change like this. Her poem made me cry.”

Like the idea? 

Tracey would love your support for SlamED, or for you to start a similar program in your school, and she’d love to hear about any ideas you have or lend a hand where she can. Shoot an email to if you want to get in touch with Tracey and we can connect you. Feel free to cheer her on in the comments below as well.

#WhatChangeLooksLike #ECStories #EduChange

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