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Lesson Plan

Found Poems/Parallel Poems

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Found Poems/Parallel Poems

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Patricia Schulze

Yankton, South Dakota


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Students compose found and parallel poems based on descriptive literary passages they have read. Students first select a passage and then pick out descriptive words, phrases and lines. They then arrange and format the excerpts to compose their own poems. Students create found poems (poems that are composed from words and phrases found in another text) as well as parallel poems (original poems that use the same line structures as another poem, but focus on a completely different topic.) This process of recasting the text they are reading in a different genre helps students become more insightful readers and develop creativity in thinking and writing. Since students are primarily identifying nouns and verbs for use in their poems, the lesson also provides a relevant opportunity for a grammar review of these two parts of speech.

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  • Word Mover: This student interactive allows students to drag and drop words from a passage from famous works or a word bank to create a found poem.

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One of the strongest ways to teach students about how poets and poetry works is to encourage them to write their own poetry. As Dunning and Stafford explain, the advantage of found poems is that "you don't start from scratch. All you have to do is find some good language and ‘improve' it" (3). These two teachers note that "poems hide in things you and others say and write. They lie buried in places where language isn't so self-conscious as ‘real poetry' often is. [Writing found poems] is about keeping your ears and eyes alert to the possibilities in ordinary language" (3).

Further Reading

Dunning, Stephen, and William Stafford. 1992. "Found and Headline Poems." Getting the Knack: 20 Poetry Writing Exercises. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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