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Newspaper Blackout - Austin Kleon

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Newspaper Blackout is a clever way to unlock the secret poetry hidden within any printed page. This Tumblr site shares examples (unmoderated, so preview before sharing in a classroom!)....more
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Newspaper Blackout is a clever way to unlock the secret poetry hidden within any printed page. This Tumblr site shares examples (unmoderated, so preview before sharing in a classroom!). Poetry no longer needs to be a gray area; this activity makes it black and white! There are no gimmicks, no magic pens, and no camouflage paper, but this is certainly a tricky way to write a poem! All you need are newspapers and black markers. Hunt for and select a few words from each of the lines as you read a newspaper or magazine article. Remember to start with the title. Instead of the typical bottom-up approach to writing a poem by starting with a blank page and filling it with words, try this fresh, top down approach by starting with a page already crowded with words. Then use permanent markers to blacken out all the trivial words in each line until the poem appears. (Put something under your page so the ink does not bleed through on furniture!) Click Share your poem to learn how to upload your work to the site.

tag(s): creative writing (114)

In the Classroom

This poetry activity (aka Found Poetry) opens the doors to so many learning objectives. In a social studies or history classroom, you could direct your students to search for newspaper or magazine articles on topics that you have been studying, or current events. Suddenly you have social studies poetry! In an English language arts lesson, you might instruct students to blacken out all the words that are not nouns or verbs, or select other parts of speech. You could change the task to eliminate any word that is not part of the simple subject or predicate, and simultaneously teach or reinforce main idea. For classrooms with individual computers, students could access articles online. Copy the text into a document. Then, Instead of blackening out words with markers, they could get the same effect by highlighting over them with black, or changing the font color of the text to white, and printing them or saving a screenshot image. Another option is for students to email their Newspaper Blackout poems to the teacher. Each poem could then be put into a Power Point slide show for the class to see on a projector or interactive whiteboard. Use this site to offer your students a new twist on Poetry Month (April). Enhance classroom technology use and take your new poetry collection to the world by uploading the PowerPoint to ThingLink, reviewed here, and have each student record a reading in his/her own voice. Thinglink presents a variety of levels for technology use depending on teacher requirements for the project, or even student ability; it allows for adding narration, videos, text and links to help explain what certain parts of the poem are about. Make poetry a participatory experience, no matter what the subject. If your school permits, have students take photos of their paper poems -- or screenshots of ones done on the computer --and share them on this site. You may want students to start saving their work in a digital portfolio. Suggestions are Mahara, reviewed here, for high school students.

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