A Bear of a Poem: Composing and Performing Found Poetry
- Preview |
- Standards |
- Resources & Preparation |
- Instructional Plan |
- Related Resources |
To add to students' growing ways of looking at and listening to words, students will “mine” texts for favorite words from familiar children's literature. Working together, students select words and phrases to create a collective class poem, that they will then turn into a performance. This lesson helps students recast the text they are reading in a different genre, which in turn, makes students more insightful readers and helps develop creativity in thinking and writing.
This lesson uses books from the Berenstain Bears series as an example, but any children's books or book series can be used.
Found Poem Planning Page: Students use this reproducible to note words they find in their favorite texts and to create poems from them.
From Theory to Practice
The process of working with words from established authors asks students to engage with the craft of writing without the challenge of facing a blank slate. As student choose words from the works of authors whom they admire, they "must look at what material they have to work with in their collected lines and make all sorts of decisions about how they will get them to work together as a performance poem" (Ray 84). As they work with texts in this way, students gain skills that can later be applied to their own work. Katie Wood Ray explains, "Later, when students are working with their own written texts, I will remind them of the talk they did when they planned these choral readings and nudge them to engage in this kind of talk about their own drafts" (84).
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
- 9. Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- Children's book to serve as the inspiration for the class poem
- Paper and markers, or board and writing utensils
- Choose a book to read aloud to the class.
- From the selected book, create your own found poem. Here is an example from Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.
- Acquire (multiple copies, if available) of a favorite childhood story or series, multiple versions of one story, or editions with other points of view.
- Make appropriate copies of the Found Poem Planning Page and Rubric for Class-Created Found Poem and Poetry Performance.
- Set a date for the class poetry performance and invite family and friends and other classes to attend the performance.
- Test the Interactive Venn Diagram and the Word Mover on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tools and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.
- identify words in read-aloud books that help make the story appealing.
- select a favorite page or passage from a book.
- select favorite words or phrases from children's stories.
- create a class poem using found words and phrases.
- perform their piece of the poem in front of others.
- listen to and critique the performance of others.
- assess their efforts using a checklist.
- Read a favorite children's book aloud to the class. This lesson uses books from the Berenstain Bears series as an example, but any children's book or series can be used.
- Invite the students to share any thoughts or comments about the story.
- Next, share the found poem with the students that you wrote based upon your read-aloud book. However, do not use the vocabulary "found poem" with the students yet.
- Ask the students to share any thoughts or reactions they have to your poem.
- To facilitate the discussion, you can lead students to discover that there are similar words and phrases between the book and that piece of writing.
- On the board, write the phrase "Found Poem" or "Found Poetry."
- Explain to the students that your poem is a found poem, using words from the book that you have just read aloud. Explain that a found poem is a poem created by taking words and phrases from a text and arranging them into a poem.
- Invite the students to share how found poetry is similar to or different than other poetry they know. Older students can work together to create a Venn Diagram comparing found poetry to other types of poetry.
- As a class, craft a definition that you will use for found poetry. Record it on paper or the board.
- Using the children's book that you have read aloud, walk the children through the procedure for creating a found poem. Or choose another favorite class book and create a found poem for the new book.
- Begin the session by reviewing the concept of found poetry.
- Ask the students to share any other examples of found poetry that they know of.
- Choose another favorite book to share with the class.
- As you read, invite the students to take notes or record words or phrases that interest them, which they will use to create a class found poem.
- Pass out copies of the Found Poem Planning Page for students to write words and phrases on.
- After the story has been read and the notes have been taken, group students in pairs and ask them to share the words and phrases with each other.
- When everyone has had a chance to share their notes, ask the students if any of them have a note that tells about the beginning of the story. Refer to the book as needed.
- If several students volunteer, invite the class to vote on which line would make the best beginning to the found poem.
- When a first line is found, record that line on paper or the board, and ask the student to line up first.
- Invite the students to share lines, words, or phrases that could come next.
- Record the suggestion of another student, and ask that student to line up next.
- Continue this process until the entire class has volunteered a line, the poem tells a story, and a circle has been formed.
- Read through the newly created poem entirely, with each member of the circle sharing their piece.
- Rearrange any lines or students as needed.
- Before the next session, type up and copy the poem created by the class to provide students with a script. Some students may be able to copy down the poem into their notebook.
- Pass out the copies of the class poem to the students.
- Invite students to share their reflections, thoughts, and feelings about the found poem that the class created.
- Make any changes or adjustments that are needed to the class poem.
- Ask the students to highlight their speaking parts, or allow them time to make notecards with their lines.
- Share the rubric with the students and discuss the expectations for the performance. Older students can be invited to create their own rubric based on the task at hand.
- Be sure to discuss the qualities of a good oral presentation.You may also want to role play or model speaking in front of a group.
- Now that the students have a rubric in front of them, provide some time for the students to practice their parts, alone or in groups.
- Encourage students to memorize their lines in the class-created poems.
- When the students are prepared for the performance, invite family, friends, and other classes to attend the performance.
- Before the students perform their poem, explain to the audience the procedure the class used to create the poem. If desired, a student or several students can tell the audience how the poem was composed.
- Provide examples of the children's book and the poem on paper or on the board.
- Ask students to take their place in the circle.
- When the audience is ready, have the first student to begin with the first line of the poem.
- Have the rest of the class take their turns, going around the circle, until the poem is complete.
- When the performance is finished and the guests have left, ask the students to discuss what they thought of the performance.
- Ask the students to share those thoughts and reflections using the rubric.
- Once students have experience creating found poetry, encourage them to experiment with the Word Mover, creating poems from the selected words, or adding their own.
- If desired, complete the activities using the Word Mover Mobile App.
- Invite students to write original poems in the format of their found poems. For an example of this process, refer to the Poetry from Prose lesson plan.
- Provide an example of a poem written in two or more voices, and explore how performance poetry for two voices is different from choral readings and reading for many voices.
- Encourage students to add some dramatic flair to their poetry performance. Students could add actions to their lines, if time is available. Or perhaps, offer the group some rhythm instruments or other classroom items to enhance the performance.
- To further explore the Berenstain Bears series, visit these Websites:
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Monitor student progress during the lesson and as students work independently through anecdotal notetaking and kidwatching.
- Students can complete the rubric in writing or during a class discussion, using one enlarged copy where student reflections are gathered.