Saturday, April 5, 2014

Look What We Found: POETRY!

April is National Poetry Month, and, while I'm excited that poetry is showcased this month, really, poetry is all around us everyday.  Rather than teaching an isolated poetry unit for two weeks during the school year, I incorporate poetry into every unit all year long. Look for some more blog posts highlighting poetry that connects to canonical texts.

Found Poetry

Midway through the school year, I like to do a lesson on Found Poetry.  I photocopy pages from the books we have read in the first half of the year and the books that we will read in the second half to use as the basis for the found poems. Titles include Of Mice and Men, The Pearl, The Odyssey, Great Expectations, Tale of Two Cities, Pygmalion, and Declaration of Independence. This is a creative review activity, and it gives students the opportunity to preview the texts that we will be reading in the second half of the year.

To learn more about Found Poetry, check out this Google Presentation.

What I like about found poetry is it allows students to play with the text on a new level using a constructivist approach.  It is a creative way of actively reading and patterning, and is an artistic way to practice literary analysis.  We can also talk about the choices the students as artists make in creating the poems:

  • Why did you choose this page or story as your foundation?
  • Why did you make the choices you did in selecting the words and phrases in the text?
  • What was your "writing process"?
  • Did you start with an idea and pull words from the text to fit your idea or did you let your background knowledge of the text guide the writing of your poem?
  • How does your poem align or contrast with the themes in the original text?

I was so impressed with my students' work that I plastered the backwall of my classroom with the found poems. Students also marveled at the poetry, remarking on the ingenuity and visual design of particular poems.

Take a look at one of my students' creation.  Poetry doesn't have to be scary, but her artistic choices bring out the monstrous and ghostly aspects found in pages of The Odyssey.

Full shot of Haley's creation

Close up of Haley's creation. 

Another close up of Haley's creation.

Showcasing another student's work, this one also chose to connect pages of The Odyssey to the Hunger Games.

While this student may state that she is not artistic, she was able to use a symbol from a book she had
read for pleasure and overlay it on the page. The visual design is effective and draws the viewer in. 

Notice the use of white-out to create the found poem

From the pages of Pygmalion, this student made a poem focusing on the theme of travel and photography. When we read Pygmalion at the end of this month, I'm excited to see what she will say about her poem.

Take a look at the other creations from my students in this Loupe Collage. Who knows what you may find! 

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