Learn All Year Long
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Finding Poetry in Pleasure Reading
|Grades||6 – 8|
|Activity Time||One hour|
- A book, magazine, or other text that the child or teen is currently reading
- Example of Found/Parallel Poems based on the novel Holes
- Online examples of Found Poetry (contained in Step 5 below)
- Poetry and Prose: What's the Difference? Handout
- Examples of poetry and prose
- Writing Your Own Found Poem Handout
- ReadWriteThink Multigenre Mapper or Printing Press interactive tool
- While children or teens are reading for pleasure (a blog, magazine, novel, newspaper, etc.), share with them this idea for transforming what they read into a poem. Ask them to look for a paragraph or so that they think is particularly well written or emotionally expressive. Let them know they will use it to make a special kind of poem called a "found poem."
- When they have found the part of the text they want to work with, have them read the section out loud to you. Reading the passage aloud will help them focus on the sounds of the words and will help them make their choices as they shape the words into a poem.
- Then ask them to try to describe why they chose that passage. Ask questions about the emotions being expressed or the topic being discussed, as well as questions about the words the author uses and the way he or she communicates the message of the piece. Questions such as "What's your favorite word in that passage?" and "Where does the author use words that help you see, hear, taste, touch, or smell what's going on?" will help them focus on potentially poetic language.
- Ask the children or teens if anything in their chosen piece of text already sounds or looks like a poem. Together, think of ways that you see poetry being different from non-poetic language (called prose). Use the Poetry and Prose: What's the Difference? Handout to generate discussion ideas. Look at examples of poetry and prose to see and experience some of the differences. Go to The Academy of American Poets web site for example poems if necessary.
- Show children and teens an example of a found poem based on text from the novel Holes. Read over the text from the novel; then read the found poem based on the same passage. Discuss with children and teens how the text differs in the two versions. Look for what the author added, omitted, and shifted to make the language seem more poetic. (Refer back to your discussion in the previous step.) See the Academy of American Poets and the Library of Congress for more examples and discussion of found poetry.
- Now give children and teens the chance to transform their selected text into a poem. The previous steps should give them a good idea of what to do, but you may wish to print and discuss the process in the Writing Your Own Found Poem Handout for additional guidance.
- Publish their found poems, or their poem and the original text side by side with ReadWriteThink publishing tools such as the Multigenre Mapper or Printing Press.
- Use the found poem as a model for a parallel poem. Have the writer re-read the found poem and eliminate any specific content words, leaving only the words that provide structure for the text. (See an example parallel poem based on the found poem from Holes from Step 5 above.) Use the newly-created template to write a new poem based on an experience of the writer's choosing.
- While the child or teen with whom you're working writes a found poem, make one yourself as well. Choose text from your own reading and talk about the process of creating your poem, or agree on a text and make found poems independently. Share your two poems and discuss the similarities and differences.
- Make found poems from text that's all around you. On a walk or car ride, look for street signs, advertisements, or any other print that could be woven together into a poem representing the experience.
- If a group is reading a book together, make a collection of found poems to represent different readers' responses to favorite sections in the book.
Discussion is a natural way for children and teens to express or explain what they already know or what they are learning. When possible, let children and teens lead the direction of a discussion. Ask questions that lead to an extended response (“What do you think about…?” or “Why do you think…?”) rather than questions that might result in a yes or no or a simple answer.