This weekend, the Creative Writing Club hosted the 2nd annual Regional Slammin the Sun Down competition.  Eight teams competed in a slam showdown of rhymes, passion, and courage.  We were THRILLED when we found out that our very own CHS -  THE INK took 1st place in their bout!  Julia, Maria, and Zandra performed beautifully and advanced us to the finals.  

In the finals, Ashley Anderson totally brought it with her poem "Mirror", however, the poet from Merriville, IN brought it to.  We took 2nd place - Ashley with a 29.3 out of 30, and her competitor with a 29.6.  It was a well fought battle and the audience got to experience some pretty rad poetry along the way!!

In between the first bout and the final found, Mrs. Deleon and I had the pleasure of sitting in on a writing workshop with one of our favorite Chicago poets, Adam Gottlieb.  Adam is a former LTAB competitor and, quite possibly, Deleon's long lost hippie-child :-).  He brought us a gorgeous poem from the duo Climbing Poetree called "Being Human".  My brain is spinning with ideas for using this poem in class, but below is how Adam shared it with us.

"Being Human" Writing Workshop Lesson

CCSS (provided by me, not Adam):

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5a Interpret figures of speech (e.g., euphemism, oxymoron) in context and analyze their role in the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.



  • Writing utensils
  • Copies for all students of "Being Human" by Naima (below)
  • Writing notebook/journal
  • OPTIONAL:  projector to share the YouTube video of the duo performance


  1. PREWRITING:  Ask students to create two columns on their page.  In the first column, students should brainstorm a massive list of things they think of when they consider nature:  elements, animals, etc.  They should write for 2-3 minutes.  Next, ask if the students remember the definition of personification.  In the next column, students should make a list of ways that the nature elements could be personified - specifically, ask students questions like, "What problems could these elements have?  What fears?  What dreams?  If these elements could feel, what feeling would they have?  What opinions?"
  2. READING:  Pass out copies of the poem to the students.  In our workshop, Adam performed the poem to us as we followed along.  We briefly discussed the poem - what we noticed, what we liked, what surprised us.
  3. WRITING:  Next, Adam directed us to write!  We were to take inspiration from the poem and from our lists and create something.  Adam gave great advice to the kids - he told them that the purpose of this writing time is not necessicarily to write the next great poem, but just to write.  Students might find one great line in the time provided, or maybe even a few stanzas, but what's most important is that the students write.  
  4. SHARING:  At the end of the provided writing time, Adam asked students to share what they came up with.  This time is incredibly important!



by Naima


I wonder if the sun debates dawn

some mornings

not wanting to rise

out of bed


from under the down-feather horizon

If the sky grows tired

of being everywhere at once

adapting to the mood swings of the weather


If the clouds drift off

trying to hold themselves together

make deals with gravity

to loiter a little longer


I wonder if rain is scared

of falling

if it has trouble letting go


If snow flakes get sick

of being perfect all the time

each one trying to be one-of-a-kind


I wonder if stars wish

upon themselves before the die

if they need to teach their young to shine


I wonder if shadows long

to once feel the sun

if they get lost in the shuffle

not knowing where they’re from


I wonder if sunrise and sunset

respect each other

even though they’ve never met


If volcanoes get stressed

If storms have regrets

If compost believes in life after death


I wonder if breath ever thinks

about suicide

I wonder if the wind just wants to sit

still sometimes

and watch the world pass by


If smoke was born knowing how to rise

If rainbows get shy back stage

not sure if their colors match right


I wonder if lightning sets an alarm clock

to know when to crack

If rivers ever stop

and think of turning back


If streams meet the wrong sea

and their whole lives run off-track

I wonder if the snow wants to be black


If the soil thinks she’s too dark

If butterflies want to cover up their marks

If rocks are self-conscious of their weight

If mountains are insecure of their strength


I wonder if waves get discouraged

crawling up the sand

only to be pulled back again

to where they began


I wonder if land feels stepped upon

If sand feels insignificant

If trees need to question their lovers

to know where they stand


If branches waver in the crossroads

unsure of which way to grow

If the leaves understand they’re replaceable

and still dance when the wind blows


I wonder where the moon goes

when she is hiding

I want to find her there

and watch the ocean

spin from a distance

Listen to her

stir in her sleep


effort give way to existence