Interested in what an actual session with Poetry Pals looks like? Take a look at one example below.

For the session recap below, a Muslim school (CPSA) visited their Jewish partner school (CJDS). Earlier in the year, each school individually had a session with our teaching artists where they prepared for the meeting by discussing empathy and respect. The following session recap is the first time the students are meeting!

We started off our morning by reviewing what we’d done in our previous session. As a group, we went over the goals and group agreements each school had set. We then highlighted our guiding question, which is:“How can we use empathy to help make the world a better place?”

Next, CJDS director of Jewish Studies and Campus Life, Tamar, led a brief chat about the Jewish faith. After a short Q&A, CJDS students got the chance to show the visiting CPSA students their holy space! Tamar took out the Torah and the children took turns looking at the hand-written scroll up close. CPSA students asked about the menorah during Hanukkah, prayer shawls called Tallit, and prayer books.

After the holy space tour, students played Bingo! in small groups and got a chance to get to know each other a little better. They found out things like which of their new friends likes spicy food, who plays a musical instrument, and who is a fan of Harry Potter!


The next activity was creating an “I Am” poem. Students thought about what makes them unique by considering their family traditions, favorite locales & hobbies. They then turned those ideas into a poem!

These poems were re-worked into a collaborative “We Are” poem that reflected the makeup of the group. Students chose their favorite line to contribute to the group poem and teaching artists facilitated group collaboration in editing the poem. At our next sessions, we will turn these poems into performances.

After that, the group came together again to review the guiding question. Students shared ways in which they’d showed empathy during the session and these answers were posted to an “Empathy Bullseye”. We will continue to fill this out at future sessions until the bullseye is complete. Aiming for empathy is the goal!

Before finishing the day, all students came together to enjoy a delicious pizza lunch! We will see each other again soon at the next session hosted by CPSA.


Interested in joining our program? Please contact us here. For more scenes from Poetry Pals and an overview of Olive Tree Arts Network as a whole, please visit our facebook and check out our video!