Even though I incorporate poetry in my instruction throughout the year, whenever I teach my poetry unit, students always seem to moan and groan. It seems as if many students don’t like poetry, so I end my poetry unit with a fun poetry project that students love: Blackout Poetry.
If your students have never encountered Blackout Poetry before, they will love this assignment. I incorporate this project with literature we’ve previously read in class. Since my poetry unit coincides with National Poetry Month (April), I find online PDF versions of the novels and short stories we’ve read in class and print those out. I print out several different pages from each novel so that my students have a variety of options from which to choose.
Before they begin working on this project, I help them out by telling them to first skim the page. As they skim, I have them look for words that pop out at them. Once they have some words that they want to use, I then have them add in more words from the text to create their poem.
I only dedicate one day in class for this assignment, and the rest is completed at home. I tell my students that the minimum requirement is that the poem is blacked out, but I encourage them to make their poems more artistic and to incorporate an image. Students love this assignment, and they truly churn out some amazing work.
To wrap up this project, I dedicate one day in class to present their Blackout Poems. For their presentations, I have students state where the original text came from and why they chose that piece, discuss why they gravitated to the words they chose, explain the poem’s message or theme, and talk about the poem’s aesthetics. This is a great way to have students work on their public speaking and presentation skills as well.
Instead of individual class presentations, you can also complete this assignment with small-group presentations or a gallery walk.
If you are planning your next poetry unit, here are some resources that might interest you:
Annotating Poetry Made Easy
SMARTePlans Digital Poetry Notebook
Academic Vocabulary: Words About Poetry
FREE Blank Verse Project