Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Found Poetry

Have you heard of it?  

I hadn't until just a few weeks ago.  My teaching buddy/inclusion teacher is taking a master's course right now and had an assignment to create a found poem.  Her instructor is doing her entire doctoral thesis on it!  

A found poem is where you borrow, or "rent" an author's words from a song, poem, or book, and create your own poem. The awesome thing about found poetry is that there are no rules.  It doesn't have to rhyme.  It doesn't have to have a certain number of words per line or lines per stanza.  Your found poem can be anything you want it to be!  

We broke down found poetry into 3 easy steps:  
1.)  Read the book, song, or poem.  
2.)  Tune into interesting words or phrases that you find in your text.  
3.)  Rearrange, add, delete the words that you rented from the author and make your own found poem.  

We did our Found Poetry unit before break, but I am just now getting around to posting this.  You will notice our unit has a Christmas/Holiday theme, but we are planning on doing it again later in the year using different books without a theme.  

I posted before Christmas about finding similes and metaphors in the Grinch song.  In keeping with the same theme, on day one, we started our found poetry lesson by using this song as well.  We passed out the words and played the song for the students once again.  We instructed them to really tune into any interesting words or phrases they heard or saw.  (A CAFE strategy, too!) Next, we listed the words on the Smart Board.  The final step is to rearrange the words or phrases into your own found poem.  The Smart Board is an awesome tool for this, because you can easily manipulate the words and move them around as you like.  

On day two, we used the book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.  Who doesn't LOVE this book?  
First, my awesome co-teacher read the book aloud to the students.  We also provided the students with printed copies of the text so they could underline words and phrases they found interesting.  

Next, we divided the class into groups of four to five.  The students then worked together to create their own found poem from the book.  
 We also talked about giving the poems a direction.  We debated back and forth about whether or not we wanted to do this.  We told them there was no right or wrong way and that we wanted them to be creative, so we kind of wanted to see where the poems were going before having this mini-lesson.  I think it worked out in the end, though some groups were certainly on their way without the lesson.  
 I thought I took more pictures of the students' group poems, but I can only find this one.  If you would like to see more examples of the student work, let me know and I will post some tomorrow.  This group named their poem "Pink Lion Express".  My class has four "teams" and this particular group's team name is the Pink Lions.  

One thing we found while students were working on their group poems was that they were wanting to create whole sentences instead of short phrases.  The next day, we decided to create our own found poems to not only demonstrate the format of the poems, but to also show how different our poems can be even when using the same book.  

On day three/four of the found poetry unit, the students created found poems from randomly selected Christmas/holiday books that we checked out from the library.  Most students did this in partners, though some chose to work on their own.  They did such a great job!  

Remember that phrase we learned in college, gradual release of responsibility?  Yeah, that was extremely necessary in this process, but totally worth it.  The students even asked if they could add that to their "Things to Write" poster that we created at the beginning of the year for Work on Writing.  

If I haven't bored you and you're still reading (because I know this was a super long post...), I hope that I've been able to tell you about something new that your students will love!  


  1. Great post - I love the way you structured this. We may have to add this to our poetry unit! :)

    Buzzing with Ms. B

  2. I LOVE this idea. I am definitely going to be borrowing it. Wonderful...simply wonderful.

    Teaching in Room 6

  3. Thank you for sharing! Found Poetry is also a GLAD Strategy for teaching ELL's. I just blogged about GLAD, I think you would like it! :)
    Teaching With Style

  4. Oh my word! What a great lesson! I have never heard of "found poetry". This is poetry with an additional authentic twist by using real text to find phrases. So cool! :)


  5. Great post! I am going to have to think about trying this myself. Thanks for sharing!


  6. What an awesome post! I can't wait to try this with my fifth graders. I just stumbled upon your blog and became a follower. Thanks for sharing your great ideas!


  7. Thanks again for another great lesson idea! We did Grinch similes and the children have been adding similes to their own writing.

  8. I've been doing a found poem with The Polar Express for about 4 years now. It is so fun to watch the kids pull out the things from the story that interest them.

  9. Loved your post! I tried some of your ideas this week. :)

  10. The information I found here is superb.I wanted to do a long poem with the title "My Memorandum to God", and I even jotted down the schema.This article, with examples, has enabled me to complete my "Found" poem with a facility that's indescribable.Thank u so much for this edifying blog post.