Blackout Poems

I did an impromptu lesson today with 5th graders. It wasn’t so much a lesson as a collaborative experience writing blackout poems. These students have a very strong writing background with their current teacher and have written some beautiful poetry this year. Their teacher and I knew they would be excited to try poetry in a new form.

I pulled a stack of discarded books I have been saving for the right opportunity. They were all books from my 580s and 591s that were more text than images and have gotten to be oldy-moldies.

I located a few blackout poems as examples to show students first how the words were chosen and second how the art was created around the poem (or not). I wanted to give them an artistic possibility but also let them simply black out their poem if they so chose.

Students browsed through the books and then gasped in horror when their teacher and I took scissors to the pages they wanted. That was REALLY fun. It was Earth Day so I feel we were reusing our resources in the best possible way.

Finishing the poems was about what you would expect from a class of fifth graders. A few took to the poetry and really got into it. All of them finished at least one with varying results of quality. I had to get a few to stop highlighting their poem words. Once those colored markers came out it was a game changer!

If you would like to learn more about Blackout Poetry, here’s a great Prezi (intended for Middle and HS students) from Laura Randazzo. I also have a few examples appropriate for elementary students posted at Pinterest.

April 23, 2013
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