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Voices provides an opportunity for students in Grades 6, 7, and 8 to practise public speaking skills by presenting to small audiences, collaboration skills by working in small groups, and writing skills by preparing their own presentations.

Voices offers a range of opportunities for students to discover the power of their own voices while exploring the experiences and perspectives of others as expressed through spoken word and poetry. They work collaboratively—listening to others’ perspectives and presenting their own points of view to create shared understanding and present pieces in a meaningful way—and they respond individually—giving each other positive feedback and reflecting on their own progress.

Beginning in Gr. 6, students collaborate in small groups or work individually to understand, interpret, and perform the creative works of others in a meaningful way. In their groups, they listen to others’ perspectives and present their own points of view as they work to create shared understanding.

Students encourage each other and challenge themselves to find their own voices and to use them effectively through experimenting in a small, safe environment. Students have daily opportunities to present to the audience of their choosing. As they practice their presentation skills, students dare to take risks, offer support and celebrate each other’s successes.

In Grade 7 the students have increased opportunity to shape their own presentations and by Grade 8 they are writing a piece a week and presenting to their peers.

In every grade, students are offered choices; the program is flexible and can adapt to any comfort level. Each student decides what to present, how they will present it, and who will be in the audience.

 

 

Sometimes in Voices class I share a poem with students and invite them to write their own, inspired by the original. Below are some examples of the poems I shared and the responses from students.

 

This is Just to Say

By William Carlos Williams

I have eaten

the plums

that were in the icebox

and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

 

 

This is just to say….

I stole the cookies

from the cookie jar.

I’m sorry I should have

Asked if I could have some

Cookies first.

The cookies were

Scrumptious.

Next time I will ask

First.

 

This is Just to Say

I stole

A spoonful

Of sugar

From the bowl

And you probably

Didn’t want me

To be unhealthy

It was tasty

But my tea

No longer

Tasted sweet

 

Just Saying

I always pick

the raisins out of

the cinnamon buns

And then

I feed them

to the dog

Because

She likes them

And I don’t

 

This is Just to Say

I have made

Cookies

In the oven

And they

Are for today.

Yours

To eat

Enjoy

The treat

You eat

Have a nice day

 

This is Just to Say

I have dyed

my fat dog

Green

She will probably

blend in

with the backyard

Forgive me

I thought she

Would look so much better

in green.

 

Jaguar

BY FRANCISCO X. ALARCÓN

some say

I’m now almost

extinct in this park

but the people

who say this

don’t know

that by smelling

the orchids

in the trees

they’re sensing

the fragrance

of my chops

that by hearing

the rumbling

of the waterfalls

they’re listening

to my ancestors’

great roar

that by observing

the constellations

of the night sky

they’re gazing

at the star spots

on my fur

that I am and

always will be

the wild

untamed

living spirit

of this jungle

 

Dippy (our cat)

As you sleep

In the night

I play

I sneak

I observe

I strike

I search

The upstairs and downstairs

For my prey

See with my eyes

Smell with my nose

And listen with my ears

I spot my prey

In the shadows I hide

With padded feet I sneak

I wait

I prepare

 

Cali

some say

I’m almost

always hungry

but the people

who say this,

don’t know

that by smelling

the dog food

in the pantry

they’re sensing

the hunger

in my eyes

that by hearing

the glorious sound

of my mighty snore

they’re listening

to me sleep

throughout the day 

that by observing

my shaking,

and whining

they’re gazing

at me trying

to get outside

that I am and

always will be

the beefy

untamed

hungry spirit

of the house.

 

From an Animal’s Point of View…

I am a jellyfish

I shine like a star

In the big, wide, dark ocean

Floating through the water like an astronaut

They call me a bell

But I don’t ring,

I glow

And I bob, like a bouncy ringlet

Of submerged hair

I am a Medusa, 

The monster of the sea

But I am tiny

Until my friends arrive

We are a bloom,

A cacophony of iridescent bells

Beautiful and dangerous

We look small

But we have a venomous sting

We break apart like a crumbling wall

And take to the breeze of the current

We float past shipwrecks and planes

Coral reefs and Seaweed forests

We see all the wonders of the ocean

Trapped beneath the dark and shiny waves

But we are not prisoners

We are free.

 

From an Animal’s Point of View…

Soaring through the night skies

All night looking for dinner…

Whoo whoo

With my bright yellow eyes 

I see from a distance…

Dinner 

A tiny rodent called a mouse

Will suit me and my family 

Just fine 

Whoo whoo

My family and I are fed with tasty 

Delights 

All cozy in our nest 

Snuggled close…

Whoo whoo

 Sleeping tight 

Under the star light 

Tonight 

Whooo whoo

I am an owl

 

 I posted this example and asked students what colour they thought best represented them:

Just Like Me

By Lawan Mitchell

Black describes me.

My mood, my personality.

Black is the colour that everyone likes.

Black is subtle,

Not too flashy, not too boring.

Black is power, authority.

Black moves like air.

Close your eyes, it’s everywhere.

Black is nonchalant.

Black’s carefree.

Nothing fazes this colour.

Black’s hard as steel.

Black is my best friend.

Because we’re just alike.

Plain, basic, understated,

Unlike red or orange or yellow.

We don’t brighten up a room.

We bring coolness

That can’t be produced by another.

Stone-faced is our expression.

Relaxed is our mood,

Our state of mind.

We stand alone,

But we can mix

With all people, all colours.

Just Like Me

 

Blue orange and green

describe me.

Blue for the ocean.

Orange for my hair

and my personality.

Green for how much

I like to explore

and go into the forest.

 

Just Like Me

I’m like a rainbow

never one color always changing 

Yellow and flashy

filling the room with light

Blue and bored, tired as ever

Purple and annoyed

from some irritating people 

So yes, that’s me

 

Just Like Me

Orange describes me

My personality, who I am

Orange is a color we all like

It is vibrant and bright

It is not too exciting, not too dangerous

Orange is fierce, and powerful

It is happy, it is colorful

Orange is different than the others

It is both sour and sweet

It makes you feel creative

Orange is just like me

We are both colorful

We are both creative

We are sweet, and sour

Orange is the only thing that I can relate to

Unlike darker colors

We make things brighter wherever we go

No other does it this way

Joyful is our expression

Cheerful is our mood

Bringing joy to everyone

That’s what we do

We are orange

 

A palindrome poem is designed to be read from the top to the bottom and then reversed and read from the bottom to the top. They are complex to plan and difficult to execute. Here is a wonderful example from one of our talented students.

Palindrome

I will always be sad

I refuse to believe

That I will be happy again

I know

There is no hope

There is no chance

There is no happiness

Don’t say that

I have worth

I am pretty

I am smart

It’s all lies

I know

I am ugly

I am stupid

I am worthless

When I tell myself

That I need to think positive,

I realize

It’s not worth the effort

Being sad

Is easier than

Pretending to smile

Everyone hates me

I don’t believe

That my friends care

I need to remember

Not to give up

But I tell myself

It’s too lonely

I give up

Unless I go back

 

Eagle

The world

won’t stop changing

I used to fly

and see trees for miles

now all I see is buildings

So many of my friends have hit them

so many of my friends have been hurt

When it rains, it is my tears

when the wind blows, it is my cries

People may do what they want 

but it is my world too  

Even if I am gone

people will never forget me

Please start helping me

help this planet.

 

My Favourite Time of Year

My favorite time of year is winter, when the snow blows off trees and the wind is howling. When you cut a Christmas tree and 5 different lights are shining brightly at night in your living room. When you get to bake gingerbread and Christmas dinner and have stuff to spare. When you get to see your family and get to open presents and you share. You look outside and the snow is sparkling. A gust of wind makes me want to go sledding. Just to come back and have warm steaming hot chocolate inside. My favorite time of year is winter.

 

My Favourite Time of Year

Winter

The snow is as fun as a fair ride

No wasps

No mosquitoes

It’s Christmas time

New Year’s Eve.

Snowball fights

Igloos

Kids are outside

It’s a joyful time for most people

 

Softball

Demanding, difficult

Hitting, pitching throwing

Thrilling, determined, suspenseful

dedication

Summer: 

Months of rain 

And the cold

Now gone to welcome

A new season

Of the year

One with activity and

Joy

A season of freedom

And the best parts of life

Like when school ends,

And having the opportunity to try new things

Summer is

Time for self-development

Summer is

Freedom

 

Desert:

years of drying 

years of death

the desert

winds blow 

but no rain falls

days and days, it goes for

then a cloud of rain

it brings hope and life

it gives all of us hope 

a reason to keep on fighting.

 

Go Back

I am what you say I am

Worthless, small and irrelevant

I am not 

Smart important and needed

This is me

A speck of dust in a world of stars

I will never be

Able to live up to everybody’s expectations

I can be

Less than anybody

I will never be

A role model to look up to

I am everything you say I am

Unless I go back

 

The Cave

An underwater cave, 

I’m trapped.

I swim up

frantic,

I’m drowning.

I swim up,

desperate

for air.

But,

I’m only met

with cold,

hard,

rock.

I’m dizzy,

dying,

I’m dying.

How am I

not dead yet?

Why am I

not dead yet?

Just 

stuck here,

trying to find

my way out.

An eternity of

constant torment,

never ending struggle,

by myself.

Surely,

the world wouldn’t mind

one less girl . . .

And yet,

I’m still struggling,

still fighting.

for dear life.

Why?

I certainly don’t

want to be here.

I certainly don’t

want to feel.

Life isn’t 

so dear

anymore.

I could just fade away,

into the darkness . . .

But here I am.

I haven’t given

in.

I haven’t let 

go.

What in the world,

could I be 

fighting for?

I’ve already accepted

I’m not getting 

out.

I already know

I’ll never breathe 

again.

 

Why do I care?

My thoughts are interrupted

as my hand feels something.

It’s cold,

but a different kind of cold.

Less buoyant . . .

dry . . .

An air pocket.

 It’s been some time

since 

I found it.

It’s been some time 

since

I found my reason.

 I didn’t get out.

No one does.

But we find

air pockets

to 

sustain us

until

we find

air-pocketed

caverns.

 

Tanka

Just like the ocean, 

Life comes in as rushing waves. 

No prior warning, 

They will be swept to the sea, 

Where none of them can be found.

 

Haiku

The big old oak tree

The river flows up against it

It groans in the wind

 

Spring

Flowers are blooming

Their sweet smell floats in the breeze

Spring is in the air

 

Snow

The snow slowly melts

On the trees near the campsite

That was warmed by fire

 

Rain

Falling, dyeing everything dark

Bars of streaked droplets

A prison of lonely water

Quietly pattering on the roofs

Drenching the trees and the playground

Trapping you inside

The loneliness streaking the windows like teardrops

But then it dries up

The sun peeks out from behind the clouds

Shimmering with heat

evaporating all the lonely drops

And pushing aside the clouds

Drying off the swing sets and the slides

Drawing out the people

As the loneliness drifts further and further away

Like a paper boat in a gutter

 

 

From an Animal’s Point of View…

I’m flying in the sky

The day fell into dusk

The beautiful view no longer charmed me

For I must have seen it a thousand times

As I circle the sky

All the critters tremble in fear

I screech just to mess with them

Because I always catch my prey

For I am an eagle

 

Hummingbird

I wait patiently for my turn, 

I cannot go there yet.

Time speeds by.

I flap my wings hurriedly to keep aloft in the strong breeze.

I can hear the sound of humans nearby, going about their day.

Tending to their garden, running around. 

I watch as the others drink happily without a worry in the world.

But I know better than to be distracted.

I wait patiently for my turn,

So does the cat who’s getting ready to pounce.

 

My Tree 

My noble strong friend

You shield me with your open arms 

Your roots tether me

In a world of blowing change

Your strength helps me conquer fear  

 

Green is me

Green is a subtle colour.

Not as loud as red, nor as peaceful as yellow.

Green is the colour of energy, 

The colour of luck.

If people were aware, they’d be thunderstruck.

Green can be envious,

But it can also mean life and adventure.

Likes the outdoors in any weather.

Green can light a room or darken it.

Green is chill

A new forest trail can give a thrill

Green is glee,

Green is me.

 

Palindromes

I am worthless

Nobody can say

I have a purpose

On this planet

(read backwards)

 

Who I am

It’s common sense

I don’t fit it

No one would say that

I am perfect the way I am

I am a failure

No one could tell me

I’m special.

 

Things will get better

Is a lie

They only see the beauty on the outside

Appearance

Is more important than

 

A Palindrome for Our Times

 

All lives matter

so don’t tell me that

Black lives matter

they aren’t humans too

It’s not right to say

they are people just like us

We need to see them for what they really are

Thugs and criminals

they are not

one of us

they are

disgusting

don’t be

naive

I’m not

racist.

All lives matter

so don’t tell me that

Black lives matter

(Now read from bottom to top)