PIQUA — The Poetry Cafe is open for business at Piqua Central Intermediate School.
This marks the second year that language arts teachers Macarena Dunn and Maddie Armstrong have conducted the event, in which the school’s fifth-grade students learn about, write, and present their own poetry, all in an authentic cafe setting.
“The month of April is Poetry Month,” Dunn said. “Pretty much all month long, we work on different skills, like figurative language, hyperboles, imagery, and rhyming, which are different components the fifth grade are being tested for. We try to bundle it all together as a poetry series.”
In the poetry cafe, Dunn and Armstrong’s fifth-graders take turns reciting their written poems to the crowd in a pre-assigned order, a task which allows students to strengthen presentation skills, eye contact, and voice level. Students are encouraged to offer snaps at the end of each presentation.
During the presentations, some students are staffed to serve coffee, tea, lemonade, and water to those in attendance in order to properly simulate a real cafe setting.
“We have two ushers at the door to work on life skills, like seating somebody, talking properly, and being professional,” Dunn said. “We have two baristas who take drink orders. We have a manager who runs the entire thing. The teachers all sort of take a back seat. The students all got uniforms and some training on it, and it’s helping to expose them to some basic workplace skills.”
Dunn explained that the goal of the event was not only to expose fifth-graders to the wonders of poetry, but also to allow them to experience some of the more common life occurrences many educators may take for granted.
“We definitely set out to practice poetry and presentation skills, but probably the most important thing is to provide them with opportunities to do real life skills,” Dunn said. “One that was really eye-opening for us was learning to behave themselves in a restaurant or cafe setting. They get to sit with whoever they want to, just like in the real world. This experience trains them how to have fun, but still act appropriately.”
The poetry cafe is being conducted in three installments in order to allow students to get increasingly more comfortable with the process.
“The first one was students only, so they could get all their nervousness out of the way,” Dunn explained. “The second one is this one, where they invite a special teacher. We printed out pretty invitations to give to a staff member. The third one will be on April 30, where they can invite family members. It’s a process of building them up. They really love it, and have been looking forward to it all month.”