#SOL2015 4/31 Found Poetry and a little bit more

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Today was day two for me with the fifth graders and poetry. I was hired to do a very short workshop, with the fourth and fifth graders, on poetry and non fiction. It was to link with science (non fiction) since there is a science fair coming up this spring. Good idea – they would get a head start on presentations for the fair. It is always a stressful but fun time due to the work of putting on a all school science fair in the middle of high stacks testing.

(Not Ask – I didn’t plan it! I know this is not the best idea but it is a good distraction from the test that is for sure.)

Since I had two hours with each class it needed to be quick, something teachers could continue with after I was done and it to connect to finding the main idea or really being able to comprehend non fiction text. That is a tall order but here is what I decide to do.

There is this wonderful thing called “Found Poetry.” A few years back the New York Times held a found poetry competition, there are lots of sites on the web and some interesting images to be seen as well.   (to see images just google found poetry and click on images.   Beware there is also a great deal of junk that does not fit to this type of poetry)

Here is the process I shared with students

  1. use existing text  ( books, magazines, newspapers, articles from the web) 
  2. use only the words you find on the page/pages (you can add s, ing, ed’s) 
  3. refashion your words  ( change the order, create line breaks – you are the poet be creative) 
  4. re read and check for meaning (did you catch the main idea of the text) 
  5. add art ( it must connect to your topic in some way) 
  6. present to your class 

I modeled this with my own reading and found poem. I had the students give me a thumbs up when they saw the text I was reading in the poem posted before them.

When they went off to work using the following template to help them

Creating a Found Poem – Thinking Deeply

  • Book Title: 
  • Pages I am using: 
  • Words I need to be sure I understand:    (remember we were using science texts with some more difficult language) 
  • Phrases I might want to use in my poem 
  • Writing my poem  

Note for students:   Be sure you have read your article or pages at least 3 times before writing your poem!  

The first day of working was a struggle but day two with every class has been amazing in their interest and their focus. We still have lots of work to do on what a phrase is, where would the best line breaks be and did we really catch the main idea but they understand what found poetry is, they are excited to create.

They were:

  •  re read non fiction texts over and over again
  • they were discussing line breaks, phrases
  • defining words in the text they were unsure of
  • reading all the little extra boxes on the page looking for new or different words for their poems
  • they were asking each other and me did I catch the main idea, is this the main idea
  • asking what pictures would really show my main idea
  • and last but not least they were sharing science content with each other

(4th graders were working on a water unit and 5th graders working on Environments)

What a great way to work on poetry, science, comprehension and art all in just a few hours.

Try and let me know what you think!


About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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5 Responses to #SOL2015 4/31 Found Poetry and a little bit more

  1. Morgan says:

    I love this idea. I am always looking for ways to help teachers teach all the things this kind of writing requires, from reading closely to using writing as a tool for thinking about your reading. Your ideas are so clear here, I feel like I could try this tomorrow. Now, I just need a class of kids, and I’m all set! 🙂

  2. Mom Amelia says:

    I’ve had great results with the NYT found poetry lesson. In past years, my students have created poems from The Hunger Games, Beowulf: A New Telling, and Phantom of the Opera. Fun! And the exercise really focuses the kids on what makes effective imagery.

  3. Poetry and science sound like a fabulous combination. I know your students had fun with this! I hope you’ll share some of their writings. Thanks for sharing!

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