Words Unlocked 2018


Words Unlocked Update: June 1, 2018

Congratulations to all of the 2018 Words Unlocked Poets and Teachers! This update features this year's Prize-Winning Poems. Please click the image below for the big reveal!

words unlocked resist

shouting above silent whirlds


ALERT: Words Unlocked 2018 Chapbook Inclusions!

We have tabulated the results of our volunteer reviewers and while we are waiting for the final word on award-winning poems from our reviewing artists, we wanted to share the poems that will be included in our 2018 Words Unlocked Chapbook. (Yes, we have moved from an anthology to a Chapbook to celebrate the Words Unlocked quinquennium. We hope to spread copies far and wide.)

Words Unlocked Update #9: May 25, 2018

The Top 10!

Whew! The Top 10 poems have emerged through our 3rd Round Review process and are now in the hands of our Reviewing Artists: Words Unlocked 2018 focus poet, Kosal Khiev, and our Words Unlocked inaugural focus poet, Jimmy Santiago Baca.

Congratulations teachers and poets! We'll be back in touch next week with an update on the winning poems.

Poem: Agony

Poet: Tyrique

School: Naselle Youth Camp School

Facility: Naselle Youth Camp

State: Washington

Teacher: Ditas Baker

Poem: I am, I may, and I will

Poet: Caleb

School: Juniper Hills High School

Facility: Juvenile Corrections Center - St. Anthony

State: Idaho

Teacher: Amanda Gallegos

Poem: Jumbled

Poet: Olivia

School: Juniper Hills High School

Facility: Juvenile Corrections Center - Nampa

State: Idaho

Teacher: Alice Marlow

Poem: Untitled

Poet: Abbigail

School: Lincoln Hills & Copper Lake Schools

Facility: Lincoln Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility

State: Wisconsin

Teacher: Amy Heimerl

Poem: The Destroying Angel

Poet: Angelo

School: Polk Academic School

Facility: Polk Correctional Institution

State: North Carolina

Teacher: Pauletta Williams

Poem: Facet

Poet: William

Facility: Pinellas Country Juvenile Detention Center

State: Florida

Teacher: Derek Sanders


Poet: Darlene

School: Three Lakes High School

Facility: Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility

State: Oregon

Teacher: Levi Moody

Poem: Why

Poet: Alek

School: New Bridge High School

Facility: Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility

State: Oregon

Teacher: Tracy Linstad

Poem: Show Yourself

Poet: Christopher

School: Juniper Hills High School

Facility: Juvenile Correctional Center - St. Anthony

State: Idaho

Teacher: Darby Merrill

Poem: who am I

Poet: Memory

School: Mat-Su Secondary School

Facility: Mat-Su Youth Facility

State: Alaska

Teacher: Tom Pine


ALERT: Words Unlocked 2018 Contest Round 3 is underway!

Big picture

Thanks in advance, y'all!

We've moved through Round 2 and have had to lean on our volunteer reviewers and go to a formal Round 3 this year, which is currently underway! Our goal is to announce the final 10-15 poems and get them to our 2018 focus poet, Kosal Khiev, and our inaugural focus poet, Jimmy Santiago Baca, by Friday, May 25th!


Words Unlocked Update #8: May 11, 2018

This update features an update on the WU18 Poetry Contest review process and a way to praise your poets!

WU18 Poetry Contest: Review Round 1

Thank you to all of the teachers who exposed our young people in confinement to the 2018 Words Unlocked curriculum. As of midnight on April 30th, we once again received hundreds of poems from across the county, all exploring the WU18 theme of Multiformity!

All poems are currently in the hands of our Round 1 Volunteer Reviewers. We'll be back next Friday with another update on the review process. By then, we will have moved on to round two.

Praise Your Poets!

It's so exciting to hear that many of you are praising your poets during classroom celebrations, schoolwide award ceremonies, poetry cafés, and staff appreciation days. Click the image of the certificate to download a Word version, add your personal touch, print, and present to your poets for so expertly and so very humanly celebrating their multiformity. : )
Having trouble accessing the Google Doc or the platform is blocked within your school? No problem! Email us at WordsUnlocked@ceeas.org and we'll send you en editable Word document.


Words Unlocked Update #7: April 29, 2018

The WU18 submission portal will close on Monday, April 30th at midnight! So far we have received submission from poets in 45 locked facilities across the country. Keep them coming!

WU 18 Submissions!

The submissions continue to pour into our WU18 Submission Portal! Wow! Getting an error message? Well, sometimes the portal gets overwhelmed with multiple folks submitting at the same time. No worries.

Take a break, then try again.

Still having trouble? Send us a quick email at WordsUnlocked@ceeas.org and we'll figure something out.

Poetry Break

This week's poetry break features our Words Unlocked 2018 Focus Poet, Kosal Khiev. Watch as Kosal performs his piece, Moments in Between the Nights. I often wonder what our students contemplate during their moments in between the nights.
Moments In Between The Night - excerpt from Cambodian Son


Words Unlocked Update #6: April 20, 2018

This update features a quick reminder that the WU18 Submission Portal will remain open through Monday, April 30th, free teacher subscriptions to Flocabulary, and a Poetry Break.

WU18 Submission Portal is Open!

The WU18 poems are rolling in! So far, we've received poems from Florida, Missouri, Utah and Washington. Keep 'em coming!

If you have any trouble downloading the WU18 Submission Template or uploading to the WU18 Submission Portal, please email us at WordsUnlocked@ceeas.org and we'll get on it.

Free Flocabulary Teacher Subscriptions!

Want to try out Flocabulary with your students. Click HERE and simply sign up as a CEEAS location with your email. Easy!

Check out the Flocabulary video and resources on hyperbole below. Looks childish? Nope! Watch and you'll be exaggerating for effect - certainly.


Poetry Break with Kosal

As you take a few minutes to listen to and watch our Words Unlocked 2018 focus poet and reviewing artist perform his piece, Why I Write, consider a question. Why do your students write?


Words Unlocked Update #5: April 13, 2018

This update features a new instructional resource, Flocabulary, the WU18 Contest Submission Template, the WU18 Submission Portal, and a WU18 Teacher Spotlight!

Free Flocabulary Access!

One thing us educators love is a free resource!! We are thrilled to announce that teachers participating in Words Unlocked 2018 will have free, limited access to Flocabulary through May 15th, 2018. Click here to sign up for your free account as a CEEAS location!

Flocabulary is a learning program that uses hip-hop to teach standards-based content across all subject areas and grades. With student engagement at its core, Flocabulary supports teachers in their daily instruction and helps students learn academic content, build vocabulary knowledge and creatively develop essential literacy skills across the curriculum. Your free, limited subscription through CEEAS provides teachers of students in confinement with full-access accounts to Flocabulary. Explore content, like What is Poetry?, Rhyme and Rhythm, Types of Poetry and much, much more!

WU18 Submission Template

Please download the WU18 Poetry Submission Template. This is a Word document and we ask that all submissions be uploaded as Word documents, using this template. PDFs will not be accepted.

Why? If one of your poets is featured on our CEEAS website or the WU18 anthology, it makes life easier when working with a Word document.

Thanks in advance! : )

WU18 Submission Portal is open!

The WU18 Submission Portal is live and ready to receive submissions! You can simply complete your submission directly through the WU18 Contest Webpage or click HERE to open the portal in a new window. Again this year, you can submit up to 50 poems at a time! We're thinking this should cover it for most folks. ; )

Teacher Spotlight!

This week our spotlight is on Robin Hicks, a teacher at the Alfred B. Noyes Children's Center. Here's what Robin had to say about her poets:

"Students needed and liked having the blended options and materials to participate poetically. Students jumped in where they saw fit. The freedom of it encouraged participation and creative commitment. Our ELL students felt included too!"

Hat's off to Robin for reaching all learners and igniting creative commitment!


Words Unlocked Update #4: April 6, 2018

This update highlights the WU18 instructional materials, the WU18 "Tell It!" platform, and two personal messages from our 2018 Focus Poet, Kosal Khiev, to your students.

Come and Get 'em

If you are planning to begin Words Unlocked on next week, that's perfect! You still have plenty of time. The basic Words Unlocked 7-day semi-structured curriculum, à la carte lesson plans, and contest guidelines for 2018 are ready and waiting to be tailored to for your students. Keep checking back for additional resources!

Tell it!

How is Words Unlocked 2018 taking shape for you? Do the young people you work with have any favorite poems? Have you had any surprises? Click here or on the image below to share your story! You just might be featured in our next "Teacher Spotlight."

Messages From Kosal

In addition to providing footage for the kickoff video, Kosal created two short personal video messages to our students that make connect our students' lives to Cambodia's struggle, shifting perspectives, gratitude for what we do have - even in light of what has been taken from us.

*Teachers, as with all videos, please view prior to sharing and be prepared to support students through emotions that may come forward.

Personal Messages to our students from Kosal!

Click the button above and scroll to the bottom of the page to view two messages Kosal recorded for our students.


Words Unlocked Update #3: March 29th, 2018

This update features our official WU18 Kickoff Video starring our Focus Poet, Kosal Khiev, and a direct link to the WU18 Website.

Are you ready!

Words Unlocked 2018 officially kicks off on Monday, April 2nd! With your help young people held in confinement across the country will be experiencing and writing poetry. We are grateful to welcome Kosal Khiev as our WU18 Focus Poet. Sharing the kickoff video and engaging with his work will be a wonderful opportunity to lift up this year's theme of multiformity as voices from across the globe enter your classroom. Let us gather, in global community, through our unlocked words.

WU18 Website

Please be sure to visit the Words Unlocked section of our CEEAS initiatives. It has everything you'll need to run Words Unlocked 2018!
Big picture


Words Unlocked Update #2: March 23rd, 2018

Hello, again! This update features a TEDx Talk by our Words Unlocked 2018 Focus Poet, our past Words Unlocked Day 1 materials, and the WU18 Contest Poster!

WU18 Focus Poet: Kosal Khiev

Our Words Unlocked 2018 Focus Poet, Kosal Khiev, is graciously preparing a message to our students for the the WU18 Kickoff Video while in living as an exiled American in Cambodia. In the meantime, learn more about him through his TEDx Talk on storytelling.

Past Words Unlocked Day 1 Lesson Materials

While we are preparing the WU18 Day 1 Lesson to feature the work of our focus poet, take some time to check out our Day 1 instructional materials from previous years. There are some definite favorites there and you may want to put them to good use again this year! Click the button below and do some exploring.
2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017 Words Unlocked Day #1

This link will lead to our past Day 1 LPs. Enjoy!

WU18 Contest Poster!

The WU18 Contest Poster is now featured on the Words Unlocked website! Just click the image print and display.
Big picture


Words Unlocked Update #1: March 19th, 2018

Welcome back! This update features the official Words Unlocked 2018 Contest Guidelines, our "Oops!" page and our WU18 Calendar and Lesson Plans.

Words Unlocked 2018 Contest Guidelines

The official WU18 Contest Guidelines are here! Click the link to view them.


Words Unlocked is BACK for 2018!

"You've got to keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it. This is about being a complex human being in the world, not about finding a villain. This is no time for anything else than the best that you've got.”

~Toni Morrison

In the spirit of National Poetry Month and in a continuing effort to encourage literary exploration by young people held in locked facilities, we are proud to announce that we will again be running our month-long poetry writing initiative and competition, Words Unlocked!

This year's theme is Multiformity! Multiformity is the quality of existing in many different forms and speaks to the complexity of human being. We exist through the eyes of ourselves and others - as sons, daughters, inmates, scholars, friends, artists, detainees, fathers, mothers, and much more. Through Words Unlocked we hope to encourage young people held in locked facilities to voice their truths about being shaped along the way and seeking harmony in multiformity.

All materials for the initiative are available at our Words Unlocked website, which will house a robust set of tools available for public use: daily lesson plans and teacher-ready classroom materials. Check back often, as we will continue adding material! Please share the website with anyone who might help get these materials to teachers working with incarcerated youth. We hope to have thousands of students kicking off Words Unlocked 2018 on Monday, April 3rd.

Far too many young people are locked up around the country. Through this initiative, we continue to ensure that their words are not.

The Words Unlocked 2017 theme was authenticity. Check out the links below and take some time to read and listen to what young people held in locked facilities had to say through their poetry and podcasting about being connected to themselves, to others, to the world.

words unlocked share selves

reflecting found intention


The Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings

We help alternative schools inside locked facilities implement transformational, student-focused practices, designed to significantly improve the life chances of the students they serve.