Using Freedom Summer to Create Blackout Poetry

blackout poetry (14)In third grade, students learn about civil rights through the standard:

SS3H2 The student will discuss the lives of Americans who expanded people’s
rights and freedoms in a democracy.

Students specifically learn about Mary McLeod Bethune, Frederick Douglas, and Thurgood Marshall.  When these students get to 5th grade, they will spend a larger amount of time studying the civil rights movement, but I thought this would be a good time to explore some text that connected with their current understanding of civil rights.

Students spent a small amount of time sharing what they currently understand about segregation and civil rights.  They brought up things like drinking from separate fountains, riding in the back of the bus, and holding boycotts of the transportation system.

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Then, we read Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles.  Students immediately noticed the connections to their own understanding of segregation as the 2 main characters could not do the same things together.  They were shocked when they got to the part in the story where the two boys couldn’t go to the pool because it was closed and filled in with asphalt.  The students used words like unfair, lunatics, and furious when describing their feelings and the idea of closing things rather than follow the law.

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After discussing the book, I showed them how some artists and poets use text that they find in the world and turn it into something new.  Austin Kleon, in Austin Texas, is one of these writers and artists.  We looked at a few of his poems called “blackout poems”.  He takes pages from newspapers or other texts and blacks out all of the words on the page except for the words in the poem.

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I gave the students one of three pages from Freedom Summer.  They spent time looking for words that stood out to them as a possible poem.  When they decided on the words of their poem, they circled them or drew boxes around them with a black marker.  Next, they used that same marker to blackout the rest of the words on the page.

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It was interesting to see how students interpreted the exact same page in a different way.

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We had students share their poems at the end, and it gave us a new understanding of what stood out on the page and in the story for students.  It was as if the poem helped us to look more closely at the meaning that we might all take from the text.  As usual, this was more difficult for some students than others, but we noticed that this kind of poetry did take away the barrier of spelling or deciding what to write.  We could instead focus on the meaning of the words on the page and use those words to interpret the story as a poem.

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Here are a few of the poems that students created.

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Digital Magnetic Poetry with the Word Mover App

IMG_3022We’ve been having a lot of fun with found poetry during poetry month.  We started with book spine poems, and we will try some blackout poems very soon.  Today we explored magnetic poetry.  When students were making book spine poems, there were several times that they really wanted to move one or two words around or there was one word that was missing that they really wanted to add.  Magnetic poetry gave them so much more flexibility in that aspect.

Mrs. Ramseyer’s 2nd grade was the first class to try this poetry this year.  We started by using the nature poetry on the magnetic poetry website.  I liked doing this type of poetry after book spine because students quickly saw that they really had to think about how to put groups of words together that made sense.  Books already had the words put together and students just had to decide which books and what order.  Magnetic poetry requires students to start with a bank of words and somehow make sense out of them.  We played around on the board trying to put groups of words together.  We knew that we could throw words back into the bank if we didn’t need them.  Students had many ideas of what should go together, which meant many disagreements as well.  This was a great type of poetry to do alone.

I showed students the Word Mover app on the iPad, which essentially is like magnetic poetry.  Word Mover has an iPad and android version and comes to us from Read Write Think.  There are a few options.  Students can choose a word bank or choose from several famous speeches and songs that can be remixed into a poem.  There is also an option to make your own words, but I discouraged students from starting with the “my own words” category since that would stray from the idea of found poetry.  What we all loved was that you could add any word no matter which word bank you chose.

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Once students selected their word bank, they started dragging words onto the work space and arranging them.  Any words could go into the trash can to put them back in the bank.  Students could shuffle the words in the word bank or even get a bank of new words.

The teacher and I wandered around the media center chatting with students about what they were thinking.  As with any kind of writing, some students were naturals at this kind of poetry while others had to start over a few times.  Some of the students who chose speeches and songs like America the Beautiful and I Have a Dream had a hard time remixing rather than just copying the original.

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Mrs. Ramseyer and I both noticed that students were writing their poetry as if it was one long sentence or paragraph.  Once students told us “I’m done”, we asked them to read their poem aloud.  As we heard them pause in their reading, we suggested that those pauses might be where their line breaks should go.  Students spent a bit of time rearranging their poem so that it was in lines that naturally flowed for the reader.

If time allowed, students chose a background and added a title to their poem.  Some students even figured out that you could change the color and font of the words.

Once poems were done, students saved them to the camera roll on the iPads so that you could enjoy them here.

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Book Spine Poetry with Tellagami (Day 4)

IMG_2914Today was my final day working with 2nd graders on Tellagami.  Mrs. Yawn’s class went through the same process as the other classes.  I’m really glad that I decided to do this in groups.  My original plan was to do individual book spine poems, but I think it would have been very hard to manage on the technology side of things.  Getting 7 poems created and recorded in one class period was an ideal number.

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Here’s a look at Mrs. Yawn’s poems.

 

Don’t forget to view the poems from:

Mrs. Brink’s Class

Mrs. Wright’s Class

Mrs. Ramseyer’s Class

Book Spine Poetry with Tellagami (Day 3)

IMG_2896Today Mrs. Ramseyer’s class came to work on book spine poetry.  The past 2 days, I’ve had a graduate assistant and sometimes a special education teacher or other support teacher along with the teacher and I.  However, today it was just me and Mrs. Ramseyer.  It still worked great, but it was definitely a little more on our plates to manage with 6 groups roaming the library and working in about 5 different locations in the library.  We still had fun, and in the end, the kids still wrote some fantastic poetry.

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Book Spine Poetry with Tellagami (Day 2)

IMG_2889After yesterday’s fun time with Tellagami and book spine poetry, I was really hoping that today would be just as great!  We’ve had some troubles with updating our iPads, so I almost thought that today might be a day where we had to change plans.  However, it worked out for us to have 6 iPads to use during Mrs. Wright’s 2nd grade class.

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Once again, students worked in small groups of 3 to put together their poems.  Once again, I was amazed.  There was absolutely no rush to get these poems done.  Students were critically thinking about each book that went into their stack.

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I’m so glad that I added the piece at the end of the lesson for students to tell their story of how they made their poem.  I initially did this just to fill the time while I switched iPads for displaying on the screen.  However, each story revealed the thought process that students went through to craft their poem and revealed new strategies that students might try next time.

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Here’s a look at Mrs. Wright’s class book spine poem gallery:

Book Spine Poetry with Tellagami (Day 1)

IMG_2872Poetry month is one of my favorite times of year because I’m always inspired by what kids come up in their writing.  I love that with poetry you can try so many different kinds of writing in a short amount of time.

Each year, we usually have several classes explore book spine poetry.  If you’ve never heard of it, book spine poetry is a type of found poetry where you use the spines of books as the lines in your poem.  In the past, we’ve used digital cameras to take pictures of our stacks of books and Photo Story to put those pictures together and record our voices.

This year, I really wanted to try something new.  I decided to try Tellagami since you can take a picture as your background image, record your voice for up to 30 seconds, and create an avatar to be the narrator of your poem.  I may try some other tools, too, but this one seemed like the best to start with.

Today, Mrs. Brink’s 2nd grade class was my first book spine poetry class of the year.  Right before they came, I walked through the process of making a book spine poem myself and recording a Tellagami.  Here’s how mine turned out.

We started our quick mini-lesson on the carpet by talking about what a found poem is.  Then, we used several Google and twitter images of book spine poem examples.  Some of my favorites are from my friend, Jennifer Reed, librarian in MA.  I love this one.

We spent a little time noticing things about all of the poems.  For example, we noticed how some of them stuck to a particular theme or some started with a main line at the top and then other lines seemed to support the first line.

Then, I told the students the story of how I made my own poem.  I started with Joyce Sidman’s What the Heart Knows.  Then, I walked around and looked at books that were sitting on the tops of the shelves to see if any of them had a title that showed what my heart knows.  I was amazed at how many of them did!  It only took me about 5 minutes to find my stack of books and another 2 minutes or so to make my Tellagami.

The students were ready and eager to get started.  I really try not to give them too many rules, but we did go over a few things to think about:

1.  Spend some time walking and looking without taking books off of the shelves.

2.  Find a book title that speaks to you that might make a good starting place and then start thinking aloud about your poem with your group.

3.  Try your best to use each book you pull from the shelves.  We spent just a few seconds thinking about what would happen if 22 students starting pulling every book that they saw from the shelves.

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I designated different work areas of the library.  Single tables were setup in the middle of the library for students to bring books to and sort them into their poem.

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Another section of tables had iPads ready for creating Tellagami projects and taking pictures.  I did not spend time teaching students every step of how to use Tellagami because I knew they could figure this out.  However, I did have Carol Buller-McGee, a graduate assistant, with me today, and she stayed at the iPad tables to assist students.

My office, equipment room, makerspace room, and storage room were available for students to go to and record their projects.

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Originally I was going to have students make individual poems, but I made a last minute change to small groups.  The teacher had the whole class stand in a circle and find their own groups of 3.  She assisted students who needed help forming a group.  They went right to work.  It looked something like this.

The teacher and I walked around and talked with students about what they were choosing.  Many of them found one book to start with and started adding books from there.  For example, one group found Please Bury Me in the Library.  Then, they started looking for books that might designate where in the library they might be buried.  I loved how their poem turned out.

Other groups went with a theme.  For example, one group found a book called Dreaming Up, so they started looking for books that had something to do with the sky.  They even went to Destiny and searched for sky books to see if there were any interesting titles.

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I must say that this was the first time that I’ve done book spine poetry where I really felt like kids were thinking about the books going into their stacks.  In the past, it has felt like students just throw a bunch of books in a stack and say they’re done.  While this is still a poem, in my opinion, what I saw today was much more thoughtful and purposeful.

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After students went through the whole process, some of them started again and made a second poem.

We finished by putting our poems up on the projector screen.  I played a poem and we celebrated with snaps.  While I prepped the next iPad, the students talked through the steps that they went through to form their poem.  I really loved this step because it showed me that students really were thinking carefully about each line that went into their poems.

 

I have 3 more classes coming this week, so we’ll see how this lesson evolves across the week.  I think I’m going to stick to small groups rather than individuals, but we’ll see.

Take a moment to enjoy their book spine gallery.

 

Poem In Your Pocket: Live Poetry Cafe 2014 Day 2

Poem In Pocket Day 2 (6)Yesterday, I posted about our annual Poem In Your Pocket Day Cafe.  Today, 13 more classes came to share poetry into our open microphone.  It was a non-stop day filled with wonderful words.  As usual, there were many special moments like a student sharing a poem in Chinese and having his class give him the biggest round of snaps I’ve ever heard.  Listen to their poetry sessions at the links below.

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Boyle Kindergarten

Li Kindergarten

Olin 5th Grade

Watson 1st Grade

Freeman 5th Grade

Brink 2nd Grade

Shealey 4th Grade

Hocking Kindergarten

Ramseyer 2nd Grade

Doneda PreK

Selleck 5th grade

Seeling 4th grade

Stuckey 1st Grade

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We loved having special guests join us online today:

Jovette Francoeur, educational consultant in Montreal, Quebec.

Grandparents in Goshen, CT

Mary Morgan Ryan, librarian in  Illinois

Grandparents from Illinois

Kevin & Diane Fuchs, uncle & aunt from Indiana

Grandparents in Florida

Friends in Boston

Mrs. Hinger, librarian at Clarke Middle School in Athens

And so many more.

Each year, this day holds many special memories for it.  Each year we add something new.  I would love to hear your ideas for how this  event could grow and change next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poem In Your Pocket: Live Poetry Cafe 2014 Day 1

Poem In Pocket 2014 Day 1 (55)Each year during national poetry month, we host a live poetry cafe in the library.  This event has grown from 1 day to 2 days.  It is our way of celebrating National Poem in Your Pocket Day, even though it usually falls on a day other than the national celebration.  Across the 2 days, every student in the school comes to the library to read poetry into our open microphone.

The tables are set with tablecloths, lanterns, flowers, and some paper flowers, too.

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Each year, we try to add something new.  This year, we added some cozy seating among the tables so that students could feel a bit closer to the student reading his or her poem.

Poem in Your Pocket Poetry Cafe   Smore

This year, we also used a Smore to promote the event and keep everything collected in one spot.  The Smore held our schedule, link for logging in to watch the poems, pictures from the event, and links to the videos once they were recorded.  I also loved that the analytics in the Smore allowed us to see all of the places that our event was being glanced at.

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This year, we also added Twitter to the mix by generating our own hashtag #BarrowPoems

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I used Twitterfall to display the tweets coming through, and the students loved seeing each and every one.  Sometimes I would take a comment out of the chat and tweet it for visitors who didn’t use Twitter themselves.  It was so much fun for the students to know that some of our familiar friends from World Read Aloud Day were watching at times during the day.  Okle Miller (Florida) and Donna MacDonald (Vermont) tuned in to listen.  We also had a library from Rhode Island join us too.

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It was a lot to manage all by myself, but it was fun.  It is truly amazing to watch almost every student in the school get up in front of their peers and share poetry.  It was also inspiring to watch as students stood with their peers who were nervous about sharing.

I hope that you have a few moments to listen to some of the poetry sessions below and share them with friends, families, and students around the world.

Ramsey 3rd Grade

Choate Kindergarten

Em 1st Grade

Carney Kindergarten

Clarke PreK

Slongo 4th Grade

Spurgeon 3rd Grade

Yawn 2nd Grade 

Wright 2nd Grade

Wyatt 1st Grade

Cloutier/Jarvis 3rd Grade

 

We have another packed day tomorrow with poetry readings every 30 minutes from 8-2:30 EST.  Join us!

 

More Heart Poems for Banding Together

heart poems (14)Each time a group of students submits a new batch of heart poems to our Banding Together project, I smile!  They are so honest in their words.  Some of their poems are filled with joy while others are filled with sadness.  I smile because I am so proud of how they are sharing with the world “what their heart knows”.  You can read more about this project here & here.

Heart Poems

Enjoy the newest group of poems submitted yesterday and today.

Sophia David C. Barrow Elementary Treasure and everyone is everything
aesa David C. Barrow Elementary Please find lovable families so you can have food and games and fun!! please!!!!!!
Jonathan David C. Barrow Elementary My four dogs are furry when I run my fingers through their fur.
Martavious David C. Barrow Elementary Michael Jordan is the best.
Derrick David C. Barrow Elementary I would change my front yard because I want a basketball goal.
Sophia David C. Barrow Elementary Mom and Dad are the greatest treasure
Eunwoo David C. Barrow Elementary My parents and my loving sister always Bring me great joy in my heart.
Katherine David C. Barrow Elementary Love to pass to pupil to pupil
jameriya David C. Barrow Elementary Pets make me smile just seeing pets I feel like I’m in pets world.
Katherine David C. Barrow Elementary Joy to you from me
Jayelan David C. Barrow Elementary Family is love
Hamilton David C. Barrow Elementary We long for our family to take care of us
cyra David C. Barrow Elementary every one has happiness in their lives.
niv David C. Barrow Elementary Friends feel like family when you work together
David David C. Barrow Elementary I am scared of me because I get in trouble a lot and I am sensitive.
Jack S David C. Barrow Elementary Nothing is more powerful than Love.
Jermaine David C. Barrow Elementary Love brings me joy
Carinne David C. Barrow Elementary The sun shines on the other side. You bring joy.
Matthew David C. Barrow Elementary Long, poisonous, snakes make me hide
cyra David C. Barrow Elementary one smile grows into more smiles.
clara David C. Barrow Elementary I love to play in the summer breeze all around me
izzy David C. Barrow Elementary watermelon has great taste, strawberries are juicy, lemonade is sweet
and so are you:)
quavarion David C. Barrow Elementary I dream every one have a good day and a good life.
Kyleigh David C. Barrow Elementary Friends stay friends promises stay promises and we do to.
jameriya David C. Barrow Elementary Haunted houses scare me if I go in one I might cry.
jack k. David C. Barrow Elementary I love chocolate.When I think of my best friends.What do you think of chocolate?
Stefan David C. Barrow Elementary My guinea pig’s squeak is like the good morning for me.
Abney Marie David C. Barrow Elementary When frogs croak it brings peace to my ears.
Jamaria David C. Barrow Elementary My family brings joy to me.
Emma David C. Barrow Elementary Sweet, sour: candy is spectaular
Za’Ryiah David C. Barrow Elementary Dogs bring joy by just the lick of it’s tongue.
Cheyten David C. Barrow Elementary Peace is a wonderful sight that brings a heart.
Elizabeth G. David C. Barrow Elementary Love is happiness and it shines like the morning sky.
Aubrey David C. Barrow Elementary Summer summer 1,2,3 summer summer come to me so I can jump into pools oh it’s so much fun pleas summer come!!!
maya David C. Barrow Elementary Dripping wet leaves, a sunny blue sky, the birds and the bears NATURE
John H David C. Barrow Elementary Do what you want to do, reach for your dreams.
Yehyun H. David C. Barrow Elementary The beautiful trees, the beautiful flowers, the beautiful nature.
Jalondra David C. Barrow Elementary love is in our heart and it makes me happy
elijah David C. Barrow Elementary Love never hates.
Audrey David C. Barrow Elementary Love is a story that never ends
Elizabeth G. David C. Barrow Elementary Believe in love if you do it will come right in to you.
Elizabeth G. David C. Barrow Elementary Summer brings me joy.Does it to you? Come right here and count to two.
Audrey David C. Barrow Elementary It flips and it flutters goes all about.
Jihye David C. Barrow Elementary Hugs bring joy hugs bring love.
Jon M David C. Barrow Elementary puppies are joy that has come to life

2014 Barrow Poem In Your Pocket Days are Coming April 3 & 4

The official National Poem In Your Pocket Day is April 24 this year.  Since this date is mixed into our state testing days, we celebrate a bit earlier at Barrow.  Over the past few years, Poem In Your Pocket Day has grown into a 2-day event in our library.  Every class comes to the library across 2 days.  I setup the library like a coffee shop or cafe with a poetic atmosphere:  tables with colorful tablecloths, lanterns, lighting, and a microphone.  Each student steps up to the microphone to share an original or a favorite poem and we celebrate each poem with lots of finger snaps.

Also each year, we have been broadcasting our poetry reading live via Adobe Connect.  This year we will continue this tradition.  I’ve created a Smore to show our schedule and to have access to the login link.

Poem in Your Pocket Poetry Cafe   Smore

To view our poetry readings, you simply visit the Adobe Connect link and sign in as a guest.  You will see students reading their poetry and also have a chat window to leave comments for them. To spread the love of Barrow poems to the world, we also encourage you to tweet about our poetry using the hashtag #BarrowPoems  We invite you to tune in to some or all of our readings.  The schedule is packed for 2 whole days.  Our students love knowing that they have a global audience listening and celebrating their poetry.  We will see you next week!

Thursday April 3, 2014

Time

Class

8:30

Ramsey

9:00

Choate

9:30

Em

10:00

Carney

10:30

Clarke

11:00

Slongo

11:30

12:00

Spurgeon

12:30

Yawn

1:00

Wright

1:30

Wyatt

2:00

Jarvis

Friday April 4, 2014

Time

Class

8:00

Boyle

8:30

Li

9:00

Olin

9:30

Watson

10:00

Freeman

10:30

Brink

11:00

Shealey

11:30

12:00

Ramseyer

12:30

Doneda

1:00

Selleck

1:30

Seeling

2:00

Stuckey