I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Blackout Poetry

They say to first try yourself those activities you want your students to try...

April is National Poetry Month, and one idea that's been floating around to encourage children who dismiss poetry as being for "writers," is blackout poetry. You'll need a newspaper or a discarded book.

Blackout Poetry is shown quickly in this video:

Jason Stephenson & Lesley Mosher are encouraging everyone to take part in Blackout Poetry Week, which is April 7-11th this year. Since I might suggest it to my students, I thought I'd try it out myself first. It's tough, but an interesting process occurs in your head. Here are my results - I was thinking of the blog post I wrote a little over a year ago about challenging the status quo...

I kept changing my mind, but here's what it says...

"Breaking new ground often means breaking the rules." (Daily Herald, 3/29/14, Section 6)

Safe had gone.
Special plan...
Adjustment in attitudes would be a challenge.
Slow... new vision... goal... enormous project.
To give St(udents!) - 7s (7th grade!) - new power.

(Ultimate meaning - I had a plan to give the seventh graders more power over their learning. It was dazzling. Let's toast!!)
Not the best, I know, but I can only get better!!

It's in my lap as I write this, and I still smell the fumes. But I haven't "colored" like this in a long time, and my head was spinning the entire time (10-15 min?), changing what I thought was important, trying to see a line I could use...

Check out how to get you and/or your students involved in this post by Jason:
     Blackout Poetry
and this one by Lesley:
     Blackout Poetry


  1. Black out poems are very cool :) http://goo.gl/5Hnym

  2. I agree that your head spins while creating a blackout poem--partially from the fumes but also from looking for connections--the right words and phrases to make new meaning. I liken blackout poetry to an artist chiseling away at marble. You start with good product, but then you have to revise and edit it into something new. Congrats on your blackout poem! :)

  3. Joy,
    Good for you! I hope you'll share what your students created too. We are on spring break right now, and I have yet to write poems with kindergarteners. One of my goals this week will be to come up with a form that works for all of them! (I don't think this is it, but who knows?)

    Thanks again,