Teaching Guides

Rhythm and Resistance: Teaching Poetry for Social Justice

Teaching Guide. Edited by Linda Christensen and Dyan Watson. Rethinking Schools. 2015. 262 pages.
Lessons and poetry to help students develop writing skills, build community, and create a vision of a future with justice.
Themes: Art & Music, Language Arts

Rhythm and Resistance: Teaching Poetry for Social Justice offers practical lessons about how to teach poetry to build community, understand literature and history, talk back to injustice, and construct stronger literacy skills across content areas and grade levels — from elementary school to graduate school. Rhythm and Resistance reclaims poetry as a necessary part of a larger vision of what it means to teach for justice.

ISBN: 9780942961614 | Rethinking Schools

Praise for Rhythm and Resistance

“At a time when teachers feel under attack from policymakers searching for ways to raise student achievement and insure school safety, the authors of Rhythm and Resistance show us how easily both objectives can be pursued if we simply open up opportunities for students to write about their lives and share their stories with each other. This powerful and practical collection of essays shows educators how to engage and empower their students through strategies that inspire them to develop a love of learning. Teachers who can do that will experience the joy and power of teaching even during these trying times in education.” —Pedro A. Noguera, Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education; Executive Director, Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, New York University

“There are far too few books written on teaching by people that have actually earned the right to write about teaching. In Rhythm and Resistance we have just such a book, striking a powerful balance between theory and practice, edging the two ever closer together in ways that will profoundly impact the day-to-day work of countless teachers. This book has me wondering aloud, again, about why the voices of our nation’s most gifted classroom educators are so muted in policy and practice discussions about the direction of our field.” —Jeff Duncan-Andrade, Associate Professor of Raza Studies and Education, San Francisco State University

“The power of poetry has never been so eloquently revealed as in this powerful collection of writing from poets both famous and unknown. Add to this the stirring words of Linda Christensen and Dyan Watson and we have a book that will move teachers and their students to speak their truths and to know that their words, their thoughts, and their lives matter.” —Sonia Nieto, Professor Emerita, Language, Literacy, and Culture, University of Massachusetts Amherst

One comment on “Rhythm and Resistance: Teaching Poetry for Social Justice

  1. Mark Gauthier on

    This year I have used the Rhythm and Resistance lessons to introduce and close units on equal rights, voting rights, and personal/social values. Linda Christensen’s lesson outlines and advice are spot on and help students connect, examine, and extend learning in a more personal way.

    My recent experience with the “For My People” lesson from Rhythm and Resistance produced some of the most extensive, creative, and revealing personal statements about the personal and social values of my students.

    We extended the lesson to include updated songs from DJ Jazzy Jeff (My People) and Jay Rock with Kendrick Lamarr (My People) to see how other writers have responded to Margaret Walker’s call for organization and activism.

    Combined with a viewing of the recent film Selma and discussion of voting rights attacks in 2015, we had some lively discussions and wonderful writings in our high school English classes here at Maya Angelou Community High School in South Central Los Angeles.

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