School-Wide Wednesday: Found Poetry

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Tagxedo Word Cloud of My Found Poem

Today, for a special School-wide Wednesday post, I’d like to share a poem I wrote inspired by Jen over at  Last week, Jen shared a strategy she used in her class involving old issues of Upfront magazine, a nonfiction serial publication for teens spanning relevant news, issues, and current events and topics of interest to teens.  Her goal wasn’t for students to think about the main idea and supporting details and then write a five sentence summary of an informational article.  Her goal was for students to play with language and create a response to the test in the form of a poem.  

Found poems are deceptively simple:  they require that the reader glean words, phrases, and sentences from a text or multiple texts in order to compose a poem using the author’s language.  In my experience,  using found poems in response to literature, they allow students to let down their guard and throw away inhibitions about writing poetry.  Found poetry also allows students to gather and collect details that “stick with them” without having to worry about why.  

One of my favorite uses of the found poem in an English classroom is in response to difficult texts such as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. After reading an excerpt from “Pearl,” I invited students to highlight adjectives and phrases that Hawthorne uses to describe Hester’s strange daughter.  Then, they went back to the text to glean the language that they felt was most important to create a poem using Hawthorne’s own words to represent Pearl.  

We shared our poems, talked about the patterns and dug deeper into the “so what” or “why” in regards to the author’s purpose and style.  Then, we moved into a formal analytical response.  Since we took the time to play with language and form creative responses, students were ready to think analytically.  

Levels of comprehension with found poetry:

1)  Literal –What’s the gist?”

2)  Interpretation– So what does this mean?

3)  Application–Now what do I understand about the author’s purpose or craft?

In content areas other than English, found poems are a quick, accessible tool to engage students in thinking about themes and topics found in expository and informational texts.  I decided to take an emerging text form, tweets, to create a found poem in response to last week’s Digital Learning Day #DLDay and the plethora of information I received at TCEA in Austin.  

Here was my process:

Step 1–Read my tweets and notes that I took on Digital Learning Day and during the conference.

Step 2–Pull out words, phrases, and quotes that “stick with me.”

Step 3–Draft a poem by rearranging phrases, creating repetitions, thinking about form, etc.

Step 4–Publish poem:

“I can’t create my future with tools from your past.”
Personalized learning
Collect Consume Create Communicate Collaborate
Student-centered, relevant
Podcast, publish
Digital advance team
New tech adapters
Problem-solving, inquiry
Envision, re-vision
Student-student collaboration
Tech risk-taker
Student-teacher collaboration
Teacher-teacher collaboration
Envision, re-vision
Application of innovation, not acquisition
Culture of collaboration
Pedagological shift leads to real transformation
Collect Consume Create Communicate Collaborate
Tipping point
“It’s not you teaching the children; it’s the children teaching you and one another.”
If I can create a found poem out of Twitter-text and tweets, then it can be done in response to ANY text in ANY content area.  

What are your thoughts?  How could students use a found poem in your content area?  What types of texts could they respond to?  

One thought on “School-Wide Wednesday: Found Poetry

    Jen said:
    February 13, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Awesome! Love the idea of found poetry from tweets!

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