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Students Turn Literature Into Poetry

CHS freshman Nicole Manalis works on her "blackout poetry" in English class.

Who knew poetry could be drawn from a page of classic literature? Freshmen students in Mrs. Stephanie Long’s English I Honors class discovered this recently in a “blackout poetry” lesson. Students picked a page out of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and selected words from the page to form their own poem based on a central theme or main event from the book. They blacked out the words they were not using on the page.

“I wanted to encourage students to gain a deeper understanding of the novel,” explained Ms. Long. “Students were asked to identify the main themes of the novel. After they had discussed these themes in depth in class, they had to use a limited, specific set of words to convey their ideas about one of the main themes in the form of a poem.”

Freshman Claire Falleson said, "I liked the fact that we used pages from the book. It was like taking the author’s ideas and putting our own spin on them.”

“I have done an activity before called "found poetry" where you make poems with the words that you find in an assigned text, however, we took this activity a step further and had the students black out everything BUT the words they wanted to keep. That is where I got the black-out idea,” said Ms. Long.

“I think it went really well overall. It was truly awesome to see how creative these students could be. They came up with such thoughtful poems that captured the themes and ideas we had been discussing in class.”

Here is a sample blackout poem by Meghan Curry:
Two live oaks
Tinfoil, knothole
Tiptoe
Two pieces into my mouth
Looked fresh
Wrigley’s Double-Mint
I found it.

Here is a sample blackout poem by Ashley Hobensack:
Poverty
Darkness
Immorality
Nobody knows
What we are fighting
I am behind you in my heart
Out there
There’s nothing.

Written by: Paula White
Posted: Nov 06, 2013 by Paula White

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