Activity One: Exploring Digital Art Forms
Materials: computer/ projector, poster paper to be used by the teacher, blank paper to be used by the students, markers, pencils, crayons, one empty folder for each child.
To start, I will bring up different types of digital art forms and display them for the class through the projector. Websites that might be used for this activity are familyfriendpoems.com or poetryfoundation.org (both are listed in the resources section). After looking at and listening to some different poems or art forms, the students can discuss what they looked at and how it made them feel.
One main component of this curriculum is that students’ take ownership of their work in the unit. In order to have a strong start with them “owning” it, they should be allowed to brainstorm their own ideas for what they might want to write about in their poetry. I would model this with the poster paper and jot down different things that I like and enjoy. The students would then do the same brainstorming and write down their own ideas. It is important to remember that there are no right or wrong answers to this activity as students are exploring themselves and their creativity in this unit. Finally, when they are finished brainstorming their “mind map” can be stapled to the front of their new folder. This folder will serve as their poetry folder for the rest of the unit. Having their mind map stapled to the front will help them if they ever get stuck and need an idea to write about.
Activity Two: Emoji Poetry
Materials: Construction paper, scissors, glue, Emoji icons printed on computer paper or cardstock, drafting paper, pencils
This lesson serves as an introduction to Rebus poetry. However, instead of using random icons, emojis are used so that students can express themselves with something they are likely to be familiar with. In order to print emojis I go to getemoji.com. During the mini lesson I will explain that instead of writing some words out the students will use the emoji icons instead. For example, if I am writing about avocados, I would use the avocado emoji instead of writing the word avocado.
When the students are working, they should know what they want to write about first before they begin using the icons. For this reason, they will draft their piece on the drafting paper first using all the words necessary for their poem. When it is time for them to complete the poem, they can cut out the emojis they need and glue them on the construction paper. It will be important to remind the students that some words need to be written and then some words can be supplemented with an emoji. This lesson will require the students to reread their work and ensure it makes sense. The finished poems can be kept in their poetry folders and potentially used at their film festival/poetry slam.
In order to make this activity more digital, students can create these poems online by copying and pasting the emojis into a word document as they are writing their poem. This would eliminate the cutting and gluing aspect (which many young students need to further develop their fine motor skills) but it could completely digitize this lesson. Students could also create an emoji poem on a tablet. Using the “notes” app a student could write and paste the emojis directly on the tablet. This would make this activity feel very familiar to the students and it would show them how they could use a simple app to create something meaningful.
Activity Three: Sense Poetry
Materials: Sensory play items such as Play-Doh, bags of uncooked pasta or rice, bags of cut up pipe cleaners or plastic straws, pom-poms, and possibly slime (or any other sensory play items the teacher feels comfortable using with the class). Writing paper, pencils, poster paper to be used by the teacher, markers.
This is a very “hands-on” activity but can be digitized in simple ways. Students will look at examples of sense poetry online first to familiarize themselves with the structure and expectations of this style of poetry. When they are writing they can choose to type the poem as well.
In this lesson students will explore with four out of their five senses as none of these materials should be ingested. Students could use different foods that could be eaten with consent of parents and if teachers are allowed to give students food in their school. The teacher can run this lesson “center” style so that each student gets an opportunity to explore all the sensory options, or they can pick which item they would like to interact with which allows for more choice. Depending on if this is run as centers or as choice the timing will be different. The teacher can use their best judgement to determine how long the students need to play to explore the way the objects feel, look, smell, and sound. I would implement centers at first so that all the items can be used by every student. Eventually I would switch to choice when students know what each item is and what they want to explore more.
After the students are done exploring the objects, they can write about them using their senses. I would model this for the students by using sentence frames. The frames could be as follows “It felt like _________. It smelled like ___________. It looked like ________. It sounded like _______.” As the students become more comfortable writing these poems they can elaborate more and add their own writing style into it. When they are finished with the poem, they can store it in their poetry folder.
Activity Four: Blackout Poetry
Materials: Pages of text that have been printed out, black markers, paper, pencils
This lesson is an introduction to Found Poetry by using the “blackout” method. The teacher can decide if this is an exploratory activity with random text being used or content specific poetry. If the goal of the lesson is to be content specific, then the teacher may want to use an article or page from a textbook. For example, if the class was learning about habitats in science then I would use an article about coral reefs. Or, if I wanted to do a cross-curricular poem with math then I might use the math textbook provided by the district.
I will first model the activity for the students and explain that they will be using the text that they are starting with to create something new. There are multiple ways that students can create their own poems using this method, and it is important to remember that this curriculum is self-exploratory, and students need to do what feels right to them. I will explain that they can use the text and blackout certain words to create an image in the text or to create a new poem. Or, they can black out certain words and then use the words that they have left to write a new poem on their paper. Either option is fine as long as they are engaged and creating something new. As always, their poem can be stored in their poetry folder when the lesson is complete.
This lesson can also be made completely digital. Students can use a “Paint” style of editing app to black out words in a text online. This might also give the students more artistic freedom over the piece. Instead of using markers they can use different digital tools to “blackout” the words. For example, they can use different colors, make the words look erased, or even incorporate icons to put over certain words. Creating these poems digitally would give students an opportunity to explore online options and how they can change a piece. It would be interesting to have students complete one hard copy by hand and then use the same text to create something else online.
Activity Five: Film Festival/Poetry Slam Celebration
Materials: A safe space with a projector and screen for students to present their work such as classroom, cafeteria, or stage depending on your building. Student poems, artwork, or videos uploaded and posted on the screen through the projector. Invitations sent to family members, grade level partners, other staff, and administration. Light refreshments for the students and guests if that is permitted at your school.
These student presentations would be the last activity of this unit. After learning about all the different types of poetry and creating their own poems, artwork, or even films if they acted out their poems, the students would pick their favorite piece to put in the exhibit. This is similar to an art show but for poetry instead. Students will be sharing their persona and deciding on their audience. It will be important to remind them that when we “post” their work (I take a picture of it and project it onto the screen or uploads the video and plays it) it is different from sharing it publicly online. We are sharing their work in this way to protect their ideas and keep their identities safe. In addition to this, my students are not old enough to have social media accounts and therefore it would not be right if I took their work and posted it online. In following the theme of safety students will be allowed to invite people to the event. I will allow the students to hand out invitations to people that they think deserve to come and be a part of their audience (this can be done digitally given the theme of the unit). This can lead to a great discussion about how you do not share personal things with people who you do not really know and are essentially strangers.
During the event the children will get up either one by one or in groups depending on which pieces they selected to be in the exhibit. They will present their work by reading it and explaining how and why they created it. The audience may ask questions if the child permits. This will again reiterate that the students had ownership of the creation and self-expression in these activities. After every child has presented, the light refreshments may be served since that this what would truly happen at a gala or exhibit.
All the work whether it was created by hand or digitally will be shared digitally through the projector. This will demonstrate to the students what it would be like to post their creations online and have them shared to a wider audience. By creating boundaries and parameters for how their work is shared demonstrates the importance of online safety and for my own students, parental consent.