I decided to be a risk taker and try blackout poetry with my fourth grade classes. I saw this several years ago but wasn’t sure how it would work and whether they would “get it”. Previous examples used newspaper or magazine articles and I just didn’t think this would excite our students. But I think it was a success with most of them really enjoying it and excited by the process.
Finding the Right “Hook”
Somewhere I read about a librarian who used photocopies of the first page of chapter books for the basis of the poems (I would attribute this idea if I could remember where I saw it). I browsed our fiction section to choose ones that really grabbed the readers attention. This group also needs motivation to pick out chapter books and actually read them. I thought this activity might inspire some of them to check out the books. I didn’t reveal what books they came from until after the had completed the poems and they were excited when they recognized their page.
Introduction and Examples: Google Slides and YouTube
I created a brief Google Slides that contained examples of blackout poetry and then I showed the students a video about Austin Kleon, a writer who is well known for his newspaper blackout poetry.
Then I randomly gave out the copies of first pages along with pencils.
The Creative Process
Some students struggled a bit at first, but after they relaxed and were assured there really wasn’t a “right” way to do, they made progress. This activity was completed over two library visits with instruction and creating taking about 20 to 30 minutes each time.
Sharing Using Padlet
I wanted a way for the students to be able to read each others poems so decided on Padlet. After taking photos of each completed poem I uploaded them. I emailed the classroom teachers the Padlet link and asked that they share with their students. In the case of one of the teachers this will be her only opportunity to see her students’ work as she nearly always sends her para to the library while remaining in her classroom!
Here are the two links:
I will definitely do blackout poetry again next year for National Poetry Month!