Sponsor a special poetry presentation to show-case your students understanding and creative know-how regarding all that has been learned. Showcase the event in your classroom or in a designated performance space within your school. Whichever venue is selected, invite guests (i.e., parents, fellow grade level classmates, community members…) to attend the gala affair.
To prepare for the event, as a classwork and/or follow-up homework assignment, have students revisit the poetic selections to reconnect themselves with feelings and images evoked therein. Then designate student teams to perform select poems. Assemble students in teams of 3 to 4, having them practice getting into character. As an accompaniment to oral expression, encourage students to think about body movements and hand gestures that could be used to convey concepts reflected in each poem, like family, freedom, traveling, escape... Have them role play human emotions like anger, sadness, elation, fear, hate, love, indifference, selfishness, courage, and more. The primary goal here is to help students internalize the sound and feel of poetry, bringing words to life and conveying meaningful messages in oral and visual form.
Additionally give students creative autonomy to decide how they will introduce and present each poem; the teacher serves only as a facilitator: Allow students to create and/or select costumes and props (you will find that parents are very accommodating in helping out in this regard, particularly when advanced notification is given). Students begin to take ownership for program preparation, and the energy becomes contagious. Collectively determine a title for the program (my class came up with "We've Come A Long Way - A Celebration of Black History in Poetry and Song" followed by the wording: "We have read many books about different aspects of Black History, and we have learned many poems that highlight the black experience. We will now present a bit of what we have learned. We hope you enjoy the journey!" Give students the option of including an introductory statement before presenting each poem to accentuate the moment in time being conveyed. Concluding this unit study with a culminating activity of this nature validates our children's having made a solid connection between the sound and meaning of words. Most important, it helps children embrace aspects of American culture in a culturally-inclusive way, drawing others to join in the learning experience!