I’ve used this lesson with grades 8–10, but mostly with grade 9.
A two-voice poem is written in two columns. Two students read the poem, and each chooses a column to read. When there are words that appear on the same line, the students read those words in unison.
Two-voice poetry can be used in any subject area, but it’s especially effective when students are studying similarities and differences or harmony and discord. It allows for a dynamic blend of monologue by and dialogue between the two voices.
Here are some great examples of two-voice poetry:
- “A Graduation Poem for Two” by Stephanie Klose (a great first example to model with a student)
- Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman
- Spark the Brain, Ignite the Pen by Samuel Totten, Helen Eaton, Shelley Dirst & Clare Lesieur (Eds.)
Students can pair up in round-robin fashion to give the poems a try and can perform for the class (with no assessment).
Once your students are familiar with the form, have them pair up to write and recite an original poem for two voices. This form by Read Write Think is helpful to start the writing process.
The idea is to get them thinking about conversations that might happen — between the hockey stick and the puck, the chicken and the egg, the pizza and the hungry guy. Anything and everything!
You can use these evaluation criteria, which are closely aligned with the criteria of Poetry In Voice’s scoring rubric:
- Creativity/originality /5
- Effort /5
- Memorization /5
Oral presentation elements /10
- pace (not too fast, not too slow)
- projection (volume loud enough to hear from the back, but don’t yell!)
- intonation (animated, engaged, varied)
- eye contact (look at audience — not, up, down, sideways, or just at teacher)
- posture (straight, tall, shoulders back) and composure (still, calm, relaxed body)