Like all memorized pieces, your ability to effectively coach a student is minimized if their piece isn’t memorized. If a student attends a practice session with most of the piece not memorized, encourage them to spend that practice session memorizing the piece instead. Although you may have a little leeway with POI since the student has the manuscript with them, you still won’t be able to practice effectively if the student is reading straight from their black book the whole time.
Pay close attention to how the student presents their selection of poems, prose, nonfiction, etc. Would it be more effective to splice the pieces up? Can you clearly tell when a piece changes? Do all pieces fit a certain theme or idea?
Because blocking with a black book can be difficult, it may help to spend one practice session specifically focusing on using the black book. Some of these blockings might be simple (like turning a page to show emotion) and others may be more complicated (like using the book as a prop). Additionally, it might take some time for students to remember all the blockings. Be patient with them if, in the next practice, they have forgotten some of the blocking.
POI is similar to OO and Dec in the sense that it is student-created. Students may not be writing the pieces but choosing and assimilating the correct pieces is also an art. Especially in the beginning of your practice sessions, focus a lot on what types of pieces are used and whether there seems to be something missing. Also, focus on the order of pieces to see if there could be a smoother transition between pieces.
Because POI is more complex, it might help students to watch examples of strong POI pieces. Below are some examples of POI performances from final rounds of NSDA.
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