College Courses & The Festival

Extra Credit Options for Using the Dodge Poetry Festival in a College Course

As instructors, we know that transfer of knowledge often begins when students get hands-on experience and connect personally to a topic or text. At the 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival, students will experience a live literature event, featuring readings, informative panels and conversations with engaging and diverse poets, making this an ideal event for any college course.

If you can’t take your class to the Dodge Poetry Festival but still want to incorporate it into your syllabus, consider making attendance at the Festival count as extra credit in your course. Below are a few ways to create these opportunities for your students. We hope that by incorporating the Festival right into your syllabus, more students feel encouraged to attend, and thus even more students have the chance to experience this incredible Festival.

Don't forget that educators can pre-register to attend the Festival for free on Thursday, October 22. College students can purchase $10 tickets for Thursday, Saturday or Sunday of the Festival (more information about tickets for college students coming soon). 

Assignment 1: Attend

Ideal Course: Great for any course, especially composition, literature, or creative writing!

Overview: This type of assignment asks students to experience live literature without having the added anxiety of a paper, thus hopefully leading to more students going to and gaining from the event. It's always helpful to have students experience poetry and conversations outside of the classroom. Without the stress of an assignment, they can come to see poetry is not merely schoolwork, but rather a part of our larger culture.

Different Ways to Grade: Students take a picture of themselves at the event with a current festival program. Then they can email, upload to course page, or show it to you in class

  • This can be graded as points toward a class participation grade
  • This can count in place of another low-stake homework assignment that they might have missed

Assignment 2: Attend & Reflect

Ideal Course:  Great for any course, especially composition, literature, or creative writing!

Overview: Reflecting on an experience often helps us process it. For students who have never attended a similar event before, reflection allows them to see how the Festival exceeded their expectations or shifted their views on poetry. Have students answer either or both of the following questions: How did the experience of poetry being read aloud / performed shape or change your view of poetry? What was the experience of being at a festival like for you personally—did anything surprise you, excite you, intrigue you? 

Different Ways to Grade: Students write a 1-2 page reflection paper

  • This can be graded as complete/incomplete to count toward participation
  • This can be used toward a previous grade, adding a letter or half a letter grade to boost a current assignment grade
  • This can be part of a larger assignment option where students attend various cultural events for a low-stakes assignment grade

Assignment 3: Attend & Research

Ideal Course: Great for any course!

OverviewFor this assignment, students can check our program (available summer 2020) to seek a specific poet, panel, or themed reading that resonates with your course’s topic, assignments, or texts. Students can research the poet and/or panel topic before or after attending the event. Then the student’s experience at the Festival can be synthesized into their research. Students can even directly speak to the poet at the Festival or through Q&As.

After the Festival, students can write a formal paper, synthesizing the discussions / poetry from the Festival directly with your course’s information. You could design the question yourself or have students directly answer some of the following: How does the panel of contemporary poets tackle topics written about in class? How did the panel directly connect to a specific text or discussion from class? How did the poetry speak to issues discussed in class? How does the panel of contemporary poets tackle the particular topic? How do their comments align with your research on the topic? How does researching the poet’s work help shape your view of them or the topic they write about? How do art and poetry help further a discussion on any topic?

Different Ways to Grade: Students write a paper following the same rules/requirements of other assigned prompts in your course

  • This can take the place of another assignment for the course and be graded similarly
  • This can be graded as complete/incomplete and count toward participation
  • This can be part of a larger assignment option where students attend various cultural events for a low-stakes assignment grade



Melissa Adamo M.F.A is currently the College Liaison for the Dodge Poetry Festival and an Adjunct Instructor at Montclair State University and Rutgers University-Newark. She primarily teaches composition courses at both institutions, and she also works with the Educational Opportunity Fund at Fairleigh Dickinson University, teaching popular culture and reading courses in the summer. She has also taught creative writing and poetry courses at Ramapo College of New Jersey. Readers can connect with her on Twitter @mel_adamo