Wednesday, October 6, 2021

ELL Comprehension Strategy: Blackout Poetry

Blackout poetry is a type of found poetry that students create by blacking out words and phrases in an existing text. The remaining words comprise their poem. This strategy can be used with fiction and non-fiction texts across content areas. 

Blackout poetry allows students to "play" with language- this is particularly important for ELLs. Students have to choose which words and phrases to keep in order to express their ideas, helping them practice the skill of summarizing. Unlike typical summarization, this particular strategy is great for English learners because of the lower language demand. Students are able to use existing language to demonstrate their knowledge. 

The example above is created from a non-fiction article on the American Revolution.

How do I use it?
  1. Provide students with a source text (see below)
  2. Have students scan the page looking for words and phrases that jump out at them, and have them highlight those
  3. Students can read through the list of words they’ve circled and begin to see their poem appearing. Remind students that we read from top to bottom and left to right, so the words need to be in that order so the reader will understand the poem in the same way the writer wants. They may find words that they want to eliminate from their poem, or they may find that they need more
  4. Have students to read their poems aloud to themselves to make sure they make sense
  5. Once students are happy with their poem, they can begin to blackout the page- in Google Docs you can use the highlight tool or change the background color. Or, in the Blackout Poetry Maker, just click "black out" at the bottom of the page. 
Preparing your source text
You can put your source text into a Google Doc or use a tool like this Blackout Poetry Maker- whichever you think will work best for your students. The short video below shows how you can use Google Docs for blackout poetry. 

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