Blackout Poetry in 5th Grade

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Blackout Poetry is SO MUCH FUN and I absolutely love how it allows my kiddos to apply a poetry skill with a book that we are currently immersed in. I feel like often times poetry is taught so independently that students struggle to understand how to actually apply it, but Blackout Poetry allows them to do just that. They are learning about poetry while applying it in a way that makes sense to them. We do blackout poetry once we finish the book "Chains".  Students absolutely love the book we read, so they are invested in the pages and love pulling out words to create a poem. I love how connected they are to the book and how excited they are to create their poem.

What is blackout poetry?
Blackout poetry uses a written piece of text from a book, newspaper, or magazine to create a poem.  Once you have found all of your words to make your poem, you "redact" all the words you don't want by blacking them out. You can take blackout poetry even further by creating an image or design to the page instead of just blacking it out. This can be done with literally ANY pre-existing text. 

How do I teach my students to do this?

For our "Chains" blackout poetry projects, I provide my students 4-5 different page options that they can use. They are also allowed to dig through the book to pick one of their own, but I know that would be too challenging for some students. Giving them a choice of a few pages is plenty for most of my students. If this is your first time introducing your students to this type of poetry, give them page options that include very vibrant words, lots of details, etc. This will make it easier for them to create their first poem. 

1) Once students have decided on a page, I have them skim the page for words that STICK OUT. They love this part because they don't have to read the page word-for-word. Ha. I tell them to circle word and phrases that they like. 

2) Once they finish circling words that stick out, I have them pull out their writing notebooks and write down the words/phrases in order and then read through them. What words do you know longer want? Mark them out. What words need connecting words like "a" or "and"? If connecting words are needed they dive back into the text and circle those as well. 

3) After they've gotten their words and phrases, I have them read it again to make sure it "flows" and follows a theme. What is the poem about? What are they expressing? At that point they create a title. 

4) Once their poem is how they want it to be, I had them type it out and gave them a new BLANK copied book page for them to re-circle their used words and sketch their image. Blackout poetry can be simply that - blacking out the other words on the page, or students can illustrate an idea or image on the page as they cover up the words. Most students choose to do that because it is FUN. I have them block their words off with sharpie and then sketch out their image before they color anything. 

*Disclaimer: I am NOT A PROFESSIONAL at poetry - this is just what we do in my classroom. Haha. My kiddos really enjoy this poetry activity and I absolutely love seeing them make deep connections with the text we are reading. = ) 


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  2. This is such a creative idea. My fifth graders would be so engaged in this lesson.