OUR WORDS COLLIDE • Curriculum Guide

Page 1


GRADES: 6-12

TABLE OF CONTENTS Instructor Resources A Letter to Educators Discussion Questions Interpretive Essay Prompts Additional Resources Standards About CFI

ii iii iii iv iv iv

Student Handouts About the Film Contextual Information Viewing Activities Extension Activity

1 2 3 9

Dear Educators, Thank you for attending the California Film Institute’s DocLands screening of Our Words Collide. Our DocLands school screenings focus on increasingly relevant issues of global empathy and active citizenship, and we believe this film will be a powerful and engaging text to use in your classroom. We know that this year is likely one of the most challenging of your professional career, and we hope that this film and study guide can support the incredible work you’re already doing. These curricular materials are designed to get students to engage deeply with film by the common-core aligned skills of developing an evidence-based interpretation of a text. The discussion questions on the following page offer a variety of options for fostering small-group or whole-class dialogue. If your students are already familiar with a process of writing evidence-based interpretive essays, consider using one of the suggested essay prompts for a short writing piece. Additionally, individual handouts for before, during, and after viewing are provided as stand-alone activities to be used individually or in sequence. Thank you so much for your tireless work! Sincerely, The CFI Education Team

Our Words Collide Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



What are the central issues addressed in this documentary? What has changed between the start and the end?


What are some surprising facts you learned from this film? How do these facts shape your understanding of the central issue of the film?


Does this documentary feel objective and/or balanced in its presentation of the issues? Why or why not?


Were there any perspectives relevant to the central issues of the documentary that were not included? How would those voices have changed the film?


What are some background details you noticed in this film? How do these details provide information about the time or place in which this film was made?


Consider other films you’ve seen. What makes this film unique or important? What are some connections between this film and other films?


Which poet had a story most similar to your own experiences or the experiences of someone you know? How so?


Which poet showed you a world or experience you didn’t have much experience with before?


Did the poets in this film either challenge or reinforce any of your previously held ideas about poetry?

10. In certain scenes, the poets perform their work in a studio setting. What did you notice about choices in clothing, lighting, and camerawork in those scenes? How did that inform your experience of hearing the poem?


How do the teens in this film use poetry to cope with the challenges of growing up?


In what ways does this film challenge traditional ideas of poetry and poets?

Our Words Collide Curriculum Guide | CFI Education


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Get Lit https://www.getlit.org/ The Los Angeles-based organization featured in the film, which offers in-person workshops and events as well as online curriculum resources. Slam https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0139615/ A 1998 film starring Saul Williams as a talented poet coming of age in a turbulent urban landscape. Winner of the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize. Rated R for pervasive language, a sex scene and brief violence. Writing Contests, Grants & Awards https://www.pw.org/grants A directory of writing contests that may be of interest to budding poets.

STANDARDS CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

ABOUT CFI The nonprofit California Film Institute celebrates and promotes film as art and education through year-round programming at the independent Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center, presentation of the acclaimed Mill Valley Film Festival and DocLands Documentary Film Festival, as well as cultivation of the next generation of filmmakers and audiences through CFI Education programs. Follow the California Film Institute on social media @cafilm @californiafilminstitute @cafilminstitute californiafilminstitute Our Words Collide Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



ABOUT THE FILM From directors Jordan W. Barrow and Matt Edwards, and executive producer Rosario Dawson, Our Words Collide is a feature documentary following the lives of five teenage spoken word poets in Los Angeles. A coming of age story, the film documents the poets as they navigate their final year of high school, exploring many of the challenges facing young people today, including identity and expression, transitioning into adulthood and overcoming mental health issues, through the unique prism of their poetry. The film highlights the poets of the Get Lit program, a non-profit organization in Los Angeles educating and empowering young people through poetry. Our Words Collide Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



JORDAN W. BARROW & MATT EDWARDS Jordan W. Barrow (he/him) traveled from Australia to Los Angeles to pursue his passion for filmmaking. He has worked as a Director and Producer with Den of Thieves with career highlights including producing and directing content for The MTV Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus: Stand By You, The Chainsmokers: Memories and Hand In Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief. With a focus on music programming, he’s collaborated with talent including Miley Cyrus, Kevin Hart, Kelly Rowland, Lil Nas X and Selena Gomez to name a few. He’s created original programming for Netflix, Apple, YouTube, ABC, MTV, BET, Esquire, Peacock and Quibi. In 2018, he produced and directed content for The March For Our Lives – his first collaboration with the poets of Get Lit. Later that year, he along with creative partner Matt Edwards, partnered once again with Get Lit to direct a PSA for the 2018 election, entitled ‘Use Your Voice’ to encourage youth voting turnout. Matt Edwards (he/him) is a 2021 Prime Time Emmy Award winning editor for his work on the National Geographic docs-series Life Below Zero. From humble beginnings in South Africa, Matt worked his way up in the film industry in London and later Los Angeles. Starting out as a multicam concert editor and cinematographer, Matt worked and travelled the world with some of the biggest names in music including Beyonce, Lady Gaga, U2, Oasis, Cold Play, Foo Fighters, Justin Bieber, Metallica, Neil Diamond and Taylor Swift just to name a few. In his television career he has worked in both development and series. Creating and developing multiple shows for BBC, Nat Geo, Bravo, MTV and multiple other streaming services. He collaborated with Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bruno Mars on their Super Bowl Half Time shows. In his charitable endeavors he directed, produced and edited content for President Bill Clinton’s Clinton Foundation, Dow’s Live Earth event, Al Gore’s Climate Change Summit and creative content for the founders of Omaze.

Our Words Collide Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



WHAT IS POETRY? WORD CLUSTER Directions: Before watching this film, use this activity reflect on what poetry means to you and what assumptions you may have about poetry and people who write poetry. 1. Brainstorm words that you associate with poetry and write them at the end of the lines in the word cluster below. 2. Continue adding lines and words, branching off from either “poetry” or the other words that you write down 3. There are no wrong answers! 4. After brainstorming, share your word cluster with a peer. What similarities and differences do you notice about your word clusters?


Our Words Collide Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



YEARBOOK OF POETS Directions: The film you are about to watch is a portrait of five teenage poets in Los Angeles. As you watch, fill out this yearbook-styled graphic organizer to help you better understand them, their world, and their art. 1. In the “Activities” box, list the various activities, life experiences, and other things they do that make them who they are 2. Nominate them for a senior superlative by completing the “Most Likely To...” sentence stem with an appropriate category. 3. In the “Senior Quote” box, record a memorable or impactful line from one of their poems or their interviews that you think captures who they are.


Most Likely To ___________________________________


________________________________________________ Senior Quote

Our Words Collide Curriculum Guide | CFI Education




Most Likely To ___________________________________


________________________________________________ Senior Quote


Most Likely To ___________________________________


________________________________________________ Senior Quote

“ Our Words Collide Curriculum Guide | CFI Education

” 5



Most Likely To ___________________________________


________________________________________________ Senior Quote


Most Likely To ___________________________________


________________________________________________ Senior Quote

“ Our Words Collide Curriculum Guide | CFI Education

” 6


RESPONSE QUESTIONS Directions: Respond to each question, referring to specific scenes, events, and dialogue from the film as evidence for your interpretation. 1. What challenges did the young poets face in their home and school lives and how did those challenges inform their poetry? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2. Which teen do you think had the most unique style or voice as a poet? How so? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3. How was the style of poetry performed in this film different or similar to other poetry you’ve been exposed to, either in school or elsewhere? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4. What differences did you observe between the poets’ personalities, mannerisms and attire in their daily life compared to when they were performing? What did they do to shape their stage presence? ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________

Our Words Collide Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



Directions: Respond to each prompt in complete sentences, citing specific scenes, events, and dialogue from the film as evidence for your response.



What connections do you draw between the film and your own life or your other learning?

What ideas, positions, or assumptions do you want to challenge or debate in the film?



What key concepts or ideas do you think are important and worth holding on to from the film?

What changes in attitudes, thinking, or action are suggested by the film, either for you or others?

Adapted from Harvard Project Zero’s Think Routine Toolbox: http://www.pz.harvard.edu/resources/the-4-cs Our Words Collide Curriculum Guide | CFI Education



CREATE A SPOKEN WORD POEM Directions: One of the beautiful things about poetry is that it is accessible to everyone. As evidenced by the teens in the film, it is an excellent medium through which you can express your unique experiences and the personal lens you bring to the world. Try writing and performing a slam poem of your own, and you may discover a new and exciting art form. 1. Choose a topic: Pick a theme or story close to your heart that you would like to explore in a poem. No step is as important as picking an authentic, personal topic that you feel strongly about. 2. Brainstorm: Make a list of words, phrases, memories, and sensory details that will help convey your emotions. 3. Draft: Try not to worry too much or censor yourself as you write a first draft. Let the ideas flow, treating this more like a freewrite than anything else. 4. Record your poem: Use your phone or another device to record a reading of your poem. Because slam poetry is a performative art, you want to pay attention to the sound and rhythm of both the words and your delivery. 5. Revise: After listening to your poem, assess if your poem is achieving the tone and style that you have in mind, and then write a new draft. 6. Refine: Repeat steps four and five as many times as you need to until you are happy with your piece. 7. Rehearse: Practice your poem in front of a mirror or by recording a video of yourself. Think about your vocal and physical delivery of your piece. 8. Perform: Find a place to perform your poem! This might be in class, or at a school/community-sponsored poetry slam. You might be able to find local poetry slams by asking at your local library or one of your teachers. You can also record a video of your poem to share with friends and family!

Our Words Collide Curriculum Guide | CFI Education


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.