Next, tell students that they will hear from a young Canadian poet, Shane Koyczan, who is using his voice to raise awareness about bullying through spoken word poetry. Koyczan, who was bullied in school and who now speaks out about what he and some of his peers experienced, has also launched a website called the To This Day Project, which provides information and support for individuals who have experienced bullying.
Play Shane Koyczan’s TED Talk in which he performs his spoken word poem To This Day starting from minute 05:04 so you skip the the introduction to the poem, which contains an instance of strong profanity. After watching, ask students to respond to the following question in their journals:
What was the most impactful, important, or memorable moment in the video for you? What makes you say that?
Next, pass out the Transcript of Shane Koyczan’s TED Talk and have students read the poem to themselves. You might invite them to annotate by underlining powerful images, circling new vocabulary words, writing question marks in the margin where they feel confused, and exclamation marks in places that they find powerful.
Divide the class into small groups and ask them to discuss the following prompts:
- Share one of your powerful images with the group and explain why you underlined it. Then work as a group to address questions about vocabulary and confusing moments in the poem.
- What is the purpose of Koyczan’s poem? Support your answer with evidence from the text.
- How does Koyczan use stories in his poem to help convey his purpose?
- Can spoken word poetry and other forms of creative expression help change society for the better? What role can they play in addressing injustice and unfairness in your school, community, country, or world?
Facilitate a class discussion. You might ask 1–2 groups to take the lead on a question before asking other students to add their ideas and observations.