Friday, 24 January 2014

Blackout Poetry

Doodle Buddy app
We enjoy teaching poetry with our students because we learn more about them as writers and thinkers. Sometimes we are surprised by students when they reveal perspectives, through their poetry, that we have not seen from them before. Many of our students look forward to poetry because it gives them the opportunity to write in a format shorter than paragraphs and essays.

Sometimes poetry can be challenging because we push them to use figurative language, descriptive phrases and powerful vocabulary to describe their experiences. For those students, I like teaching blackout poetry, a type of found poetry, because they do not have to write the poem themselves or from their own experience.

Created on the iPad using Doodle Buddy
The idea is to create a poem by selecting interesting and descriptive words or phrases in newspaper or magazine articles, books or websites. Then the rest of the words or phrases on the page are blacked out, or coloured over in some way, to highlight the chosen words. I begin by modelling how to create a blackout poem by using a newspaper article, and through the gradual release model we work toward the students creating their own.

Last year when I taught blackout poetry we used the camera in the iPads to take photos book pages, then Doodle Buddy, a drawing app, to choose words and create the blackout artwork.

This year we used Doodle Buddy again to create a draft of the poem, but the students decided that they wanted to complete the final product by hand. We have used iPads for several projects this year and they wanted a change and a chance to do go beyond what they could do artistically on the iPad.

As with last year, they took a photo of a page from a book and circled words and phrases. Using the iPads for their draft only gave them a chance to edit freely without having to erase on the hardcopy, thereby creating pencil marks and smudges. Once they felt ready and had conferenced with me, they were free to doodle and create on the copied page. The iPad allowed us to reduce the amount of photocopying necessary because students could try many different pages until the found one that worked for them.
Blackout poem draft on the iPad using Doodle Buddy

Their final poems were all brief, with few lines in their stanzas, but many contained depth in the meaning or message.

Others were more simple or basic, but the students created interesting designs and patterns that are visually appealing.

This is always an enjoyable and creative project and the students like the art component. As you can see from the samples, their blackouts can go from merely interesting design, to images that relate to the meaning of their chosen words.

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