Ur a Poet & U Didn't Know It

4. Co-Constructing and Experimenting with Poetry

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To co-construct a poem using appropriate structure and language features
  • To experiment with stylistic features found in other texts

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can use my knowledge of language structure and features to contribute to the construction of a poem
  • I can experiment with text from a variety of sources
  • Blackout poetry examples
  • Magnetic poetry sample and annotation: docx PDF
  • Poems to share resource (optional)
  • Selection of poetry (suggestions below)
  • Materials/texts for Found poems
  • Found poem sample: docx PDF
  • Prose excerpt (teacher to select based on interests of students)
  • Cento planner: pptx PDF
  • Poems for use in cento construction
  • Poetry Vocabulary List: docx PDF

This stage focuses on guided practice, to enable teachers and students to jointly construct a text. It is recommended that students have engaged in prior learning about poetic structure and poetic language before embarking on the co-construction of a text.

It is strongly recommended that teachers review all suggested stimulus texts prior to their use to ensure their appropriateness and to enable rich, respectful discussion. For guidance on text selection refer to the Teaching and Learning Resources — Selecting Appropriate Materials policy.

Invite students to experiment with an interactive poetry site like magnetic poetry or Blackout Poetry Maker, focusing on the way in which language can be purposefully selected from ‘found’ text in order to have an effect on the reader. It is recommended that teachers engage in this activity as well.

Alternatively, support students to engage with a hard copy resource like ‘Poems to Share’, focusing on the activities which invite students to experiment with existing poetic work.

Ask students to read and critique a teacher-generated poem. Model and guide discussion and reflection on decisions about word choice and language techniques like simile, metaphor or personification. An example of a magnetic poem and a sample annotation can be found in the Materials and texts section above.

Form pairs of students to provide feedback on each other’s poems. If magnetic poetry has been used, reflect on decisions about the creation of line breaks and stanzas. If blackout poetry has been used, consider how the tone or style of the original text may have influenced the poem, and in addition how the poem may have altered the original style or tone.

Invite students to notice and experiment with the capacity of adjectives to create shades of meaning. For example, discuss the difference between a ‘wild’ ocean and a ‘brilliant’ ocean or a ‘poisonous’ sky and an ‘ominous’ sky. What imagery does each conjure in the mind’s eye? Consider selecting one or two words from your students’ poems and using them to collaborate on the construction of a word cline.

1. Guided practice

Model the construction of a ‘found’ poem, using a piece of prose like a newspaper article, history text, novel excerpt, letter or speech. Alternatively, use a list of items gathered from an excursion to a supermarket or retail store. Ensure the text is visible to students either via projection or enlarged hard copy.

There is a range of variations on the ‘rules’ for creating found poetry. Some poets adhere strictly to the original text, including its word order. Some add a very limited number of additional words and allow changes to tenses, possessives, plurals, and capitalisations. Other poets preserve the integrity of the language in the source text but allow its words and phrases to be used out of order. Use whichever formula suits your class, modifying the approach to support or extend students as appropriate.

Whichever approach you choose, the text in the source document you are using for this task will need to be modifiable, so a digital version of the selected prose is ideal. Alternatively, the text could be written on the board.

Read the source prose or ‘shopping list’ of words together as a class, inviting students to engage in the reading and/or using a digital recording if it is available.

Students select 50-100 descriptive words (or a selection of phrases) from the written source, focussing on choosing language that they identify as interesting, powerful or evocative. It is recommended that teachers also engage with the process of word selection.

Begin composing a found poem with your class, talking through each step of the process as you work.

As you compose the poem together, discuss the impact of:

  • Language selection
  • Stanza construction
  • Lineation (enjambment and end-stop)
  • Form: the length of lines and their system of rhyme and repetition.

A sample of a found poem can be viewed in the resources section. The sample takes a minimal approach to the original text, keeping the words in order and adding very few additional words. Further examples of found poems that use news stories as a source can be viewed via the NYT Found Poem Contest for students.

2. Independent composition

Students choose one line from the class’s ‘found’ poem to use in the construction of a short individual Cento poem. A cento is a poem constructed entirely from other poets’ words.

Provide students with a broad range of poems for use in their centos, or invite them to source poetry independently. A rich variety of poetry can be found for this purpose at Red Room Poetry, Poets.org, The Poetry Foundation, Poetryline, or the Children’s Poetry Archive.

Ask students to construct a Cento, recording their reasons for selecting particular lines and their decisions about how the lines are organised in a graphic organiser like the Cento Planner (see Materials and texts section above).

Invite students to share their work with their peers in order to gain peer feedback. Offer time for editing and drafting of work before submission.

Students record or perform a live reading their Cento poems and reflect on the choices they’ve made in the creation of their poem. 

Ask students to write an exit ticket on the unit using the ‘Rose, bud, thorn’ structure. For example, Rose (something I loved), Bud (something I’m looking forward to learning next), Thorn, (something I found tricky).

Collect students' Cento poems and reflections for assessment.

AATE Bookshop, n.d. Poems to share II. [Online]
Available at: www.aate.org.au/products/poetry/poems-to-share-ii
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Chelle, 2018. Artjournalist, Found poem: Creating visual poems in your art. [Online]
Available at: www.artjournalist.com/found-poetry/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Dunning, S. & Stafford, W., n.d. read write think, Found Poem instructions. [Online]
Available at: www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson33/found-poem-instructions.pdf
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Education Rickshaw, 2017. 5 reflection activities to help students glow and grow. [Online]
Available at: https://educationrickshaw.com/2017/10/26/5-reflection-activities-to-help-students-glow-and-grow/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Glatch, S., 2021. What is Blackout Poetry? Examples and Inspiration. [Online]
Available at: https://writers.com/what-is-blackout-poetry-examples-and-inspiration
[Accessed 27 June 2022].

Ken Nesbitt’s poetry 4 kids, n.d. How to write a diamante poem. [Online]
Available at: https://www.poetry4kids.com/lessons/how-to-write-a-diamante-poem/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Kidskonnect, n.d. Verbs Facts & Worksheets. [Online]
Available at: https://kidskonnect.com/language/verbs/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Magnetic Poetry, 2020. Our story. [Online]
Available at: www.magneticpoetryplayonline.com/original/
[Accessed 27 June 2022].

Mills, B., 2013. The Guardian, Poster poems: Found Poetry. [Online]
Available at: www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/aug/09/poster-poems-found-poetry-cutup-collage
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

New York Times, 2014. Searching for Poetry in Prose. [Online]
Available at: www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/multimedia/blackout-poetry.html
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Poetry Foundation, 2003. Poetry Foundation. [Online]
Available at: www.poetryfoundation.org/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Poetry Line, n.d. Poems. [Online]
Available at: www.clpe.org.uk/poetryline/s?f%5B0%5D=bundle_name%253APoem&f%5B1%5D=bundle%3Aclpe_poem
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Poets.org, n.d. Cento. [Online]
Available at: www.poets.org/glossary/cento
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Poets.org, n.d. Found Poem. [Online]
Available at: www.poets.org/glossary/found-poem
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Poets.org, n.d. Poets.org. [Online]
Available at: www.poets.org
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Red Room Poetry, 2003. Red Room Poetry. [Online]
Available at: www.redroomcompany.org/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Red Room Poetry, n.d. Poems to share II. [Online]
Available at: www.redroomcompany.org/projects/poems-share-ii/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Schulten, K., 2018. The New York Times, Our ninth annual Found Poem student contest. [Online]
Available at: www.nytimes.com/2018/03/28/learning/our-ninth-annual-found-poem-student-contest.html
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

State Government of Victoria, (Department of Education and Training), 2020. Creating texts: Word and sentence level. [Online]
Available at: www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/english/literacy/Pages/creating-word-and-sentence-level.aspx#link72
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

The Children’s Poetry Archive, n.d. The Children’s Poetry Archive. [Online]
Available at: https://childrens.poetryarchive.org/
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

The Learning Network, 2018. he New York Times, Winners of out Ninth annual Found Poem contest. [Online]
Available at: www.nytimes.com/2018/06/11/learning/winners-of-our-ninth-annual-found-poem-contest.html
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Wind, D., 2018. EdSurge, Five ways to make peer feedback effective in your classroom. [Online]
Available at: www.edsurge.com/news/2018-02-12-five-ways-to-make-peer-feedback-effective-in-your-classroom
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Winston, E., n.d. Blackout Poetry Maker. [Online]
Available at: https://blackoutpoetry.glitch.me
[Accessed 27 June 2022].

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