Word-slam was used with our high school urban students as instrument and method to elicit engagement with learning and develop agency through personal storytelling. The word-slam text (as it appears on YouTube and in hard-copy format as well) was chosen due to its being a personal story and an alternative, artistic and critical form of text that our students could relate to directly as the format and content were relevant to their lives and experiences. By using the text as a mentor text and studying the author’s craft together, students were able to write, rewrite and develop their own word-slam stories, carving out a space for themselves to be seen and heard.


Word-Slam, Urban Youth, High School, Engaged Learning, Personal Stories, Agency

Author Bio(s)

Elite Ben-Yosef has been studying issues of marginalization and possibilities of providing access to meaningful education for all learners. She teaches Literacy in graduate education courses while developing and implementing intervention programs for at-promise youth and adult women. Her work can be seen at www.literacy-power.com. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Elite Ben-Yosef at, Phone: 516-466-9427; Email: eliteby@aol.com.

Limor Pinhasi-Vittorio is associate professor and the coordinator of the Graduate Literacy Program at Lehman College, Bronx NY. Her research has focused on using critical literacy, literacy and the arts to promote social justice and empowerment for marginalized populations. Her most recent work deals with literacy as a healing process and the interplay of literacy with failing students in high school. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Limor Pinhasi-Vittorio, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Literacy, Coordinator of the Graduate Literacy Program, Lehman College, Carman Hall B-17; Phone: 718-960-7205; Email: limor.pinhasi-vittorio@lehman.cuny.edu.

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