Newspaper Blackout Poems in the Classroom

Are you or do you know of a teacher or student who has used Newspaper Blackout Poems in the classroom? Are you a writer using them in your writing group or creative writing workshop?

If so, please share your experience in the comments or e-mail me. I’m looking for lesson plans, results, testimonials, photos, videos, or even a few simple sentences about how you went about teaching them, what the response was, etc.

Thanks in advance!

UPDATE: Check out the comments for examples!

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  1. says

    Dig this video of students making blackout poems:

    Newspapers offer many learning opportunities for students,” Daily Gleaner, Canada, October 2008

    Feature on teacher Shaneen Jessome how she uses found poetry in her classroom:

    “For this blackout poetry lesson, students will choose an article that looks interesting to them, and look for words and phrases that appeal to them,” she said.

    “Once they have begun to narrow things down, each student will black out the unwanted words using a marker. The result will be a unique blackout poem using words and phrases from the original article.”

    Students use an article from the newspaper as the basis for the subject of the poem.

    This week, several students chose to work with articles from the entertainment pages of the Gleaner.

    Courtney Crawford, 11, worked on the popular topics of the High School Musical and Saw V movies.

    Her free-form poem ended with this line: “It was good versus evil and both won.”

    After the chosen sections of the article were blacked out as directed, the found poems were cut out of the newspaper and mounted on construction paper.

    * * *

    Bic Pens included newspaper blackout poems in their June 2008 “Teacher Times” paper, “Rhyme outside the Box: The Power of Poetry in the Classroom, conveniently replacing a permanent marker with a Bic black ball point:

    bic pens newspaper blackout poems

  2. Laura klink says

    Never did black out poetry, but in my artclassroom I have encorporated collage w/newspaper as a drawing or printing surface. I try to encourage a relationship between the two different media for desired content/end rusult.
    Today I shared your blog and info on Lynda Barry w/two of my students! So what…. that’s what! :) keep up the good work Austin Kleon! thanks for your enthusiasm, LK

  3. J. Sharp says

    I’m not in the classroom yet (student teaching in Spring 2010), but I think I’d like to use it in the classroom.

    I could see doing two variations on it. Either turn everyone loose on their own individually chosen article, or run off 20 copies of the same article and see the vastly different poems that come out of one source. I think what you’d get would also change based on what poets you studied beforehand.

  4. says

    J – That’s funny, b/c those are the two variations I couldn’t decide on for the contest:

    On the one hand, it’s more of a contest if you all do the same poem, and it’s fun to see all the variations.

    On the other hand, it’s a little more laid back and potentially more creative to let folks pick their own articles.

    Which is why we did the first variation for the four monthlies, and I’m going to do the second for our upcoming free-for-all contest.

  5. Shaneen Jessome says

    Hi! Glad to see that some others have caught on to this great lesson. Thanks for the great idea!
    -Shaneen :)

  6. says

    This from Sean Ziebarth, an English teacher at Fountain Valley High School, in Fountain Valley, California:

    I wanted to share how I recently used Blackout Poems in my classroom. As you can tell from this email’s subject, I used the blackout poetry with novels: Catcher in the Rye and Fahrenheit 451 with my high school juniors and freshmen respectively….This lesson could be used with any novel or short story–basically the assignment is this: create a blackout poem that represents a theme of the novel or story. Fahrenheit 451 is especially interesting because as the police chase the main character, Guy Montag, he watches this pursuit on a portable television device. When he realizes millions of people will witness his arrest, he wonders what he could say in the few seconds before he’s captured that would wake up those viewers and help them realize what he now knows: the value of books, information, knowledge, etc.

    The students loved the freedom this assignment provided to create such a unique response to the literature they had been reading.

    Here’s the Powerpoint Sean used to introduce the assignment:

    You can see some of the resulting student work on Flickr

    A big thanks to Sean and his students!