Taylor Mali's poem "Totally like whatever, you know?" is so much fun partially because it pokes fun at something that is so incredibly true, you know, the way we, like, clutter our speech with totally needless words. Kids identify with this because they are accustomed to teachers and parents pointing out their superfluous interjections and asking them to work on it.
After watching this poem in the kinetic typography rendition, I ask kids to look at the complete text of the poem on the screen and ask them to consider the piece again less as a poem and more as a piece of argument writing. If this whole poem is an argument, what is Mali's central claim? How can you tell?
Many students come up with something like "People need to speak with more conviction."
Then we can consider in a whole-class discussion how he uses details in other lines of the poem as evidence to support this claim and build a strong argument.
Tune in tomorrow to see another poet's rebuttal to this argument which is sure to provoke a response from your students.
Brett Vogelsinger teaches freshman English students at Holicong Middle School in Doylestown, PA where he starts class with a poem each day. Follow his work on Twitter @theVogelman.