Poetry Out of Nowhere: National Poetry Month Flash Mob!

So a few weeks ago, I had this idea.  What if my 7th grade English students staged a flash mob poetry event at the food court of our local mall?  I kind of fell in love with this idea, even though I had no idea how to plan such a thing.  I was pretty sure the school and mall would never approve it anyway, so I figured, “Why not ask?”

So I asked.

And everybody said yes.

And my students fell in love with the idea, too, and said a huge YES! PLEEAAASE?!  And so we figured out together how to pull it off.

We chose Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Bells” for both its music and because it has four stanzas — one for each of my four ELA classes to prepare.  We assigned parts — some solo and some choral.  We practiced in the classroom, in the cafeteria (until I thought the front office ladies were going to run screaming from the building with their hands over their ears) and in the parking lot one day when it was nice out. Yesterday, we staged a practice run-through in the cafeteria during lunch (to get used to getting funny looks).  And today… was the real deal.

We had five undercover adults helping — two chaperones, two bell-ringers, and one posing as a mall official chucking a fit over the poetry…until she joins in and it turns out she’s part of the plot.  And we had sixty kids, all set loose in the mall food court with half an hour to order pizza and burgers and eat lunch before the clock struck 11:45.  At that time, they knew they needed to watch for a woman to pull something unusual from her knitting bag as she walked by Taco Bell…and that would start the whole thing rolling.  Watch what happened!

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8 Comments

  1. Posted April 12, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    This is SOO awesome!!! You are such a great teacher, can I send my 7th grade daughter up to your class, she loves to read, unfortunately her english teacher this year is sucking that love right out of her. You rock Kate!

    • Posted April 15, 2011 at 12:14 am | Permalink

      Aw, thanks! I hate to see kids who love reading turned off to English class, but I think it happens more often than ever with all the emphasis on standardized testing. This poetry activity was kind of my antidote to that!

  2. Linda Urban
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    YAY!
    What a terrific project. Your kids did an outstanding job.

    • Posted April 15, 2011 at 12:13 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Linda! We had so much fun!

  3. Teacher6th
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    Loved it! I’ll share w/ my class so we can all say, “Awsome!”

    • Posted April 15, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      Thanks! I’m so happy with the way it turned out!

  4. Wynne Huddleston
    Posted August 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    What a great idea… I may have to steal it! The Bells is in our 5th grade music books (I teach elementary music). I always loved the rhythm of it, as well as Poe, of course. This is a very good way to get students to memorize poetry while promoting poetry to the public! Win-win! Thanks! I’m sharing this on http://wynne-huddleston.blogspot.com/ http://wynnehuddleston.wordpress.com/ and my facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wynne-Huddleston-Poetry/147410278647146

    • Posted August 15, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      It was great fun, Wayne – thanks!

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  • By Flash Poetry Mob « Wynne Huddleston's Poetry Blog on August 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    [...] recently came across this post– Poetry Out of Nowhere: National Poetry Month Flash Mob on Kate Messner’s blog.  One stanza of  Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Bells” is [...]

  • [...] so they did…right down to the coolest field trip (National Poetry Month flash mob at the mall!) and what not to try and get away with (texting during class, not reading).   They talked a [...]

  • [...] Poetry Out of Nowhere: National Poetry Month Flash Mob! ”So a few weeks ago, I had this idea.  What if my 7th grade English students staged a flash mob poetry event at the food court of our local mall?  I kind of fell in love with this idea, even though I had no idea how to plan such a thing.  I was pretty sure the school and mall would never approve it anyway, so I figured, “Why not ask?”” tags: poetry national month flash mob [...]

  • [...] Poetry Out of Nowhere: National Poetry Month Flash Mob! “So a few weeks ago, I had this idea.  What if my 7th grade English students staged a flash mob poetry event at the food court of our local mall?  I kind of fell in love with this idea, even though I had no idea how to plan such a thing.  I was pretty sure the school and mall would never approve it anyway, so I figured, “Why not ask?”” [...]

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