Creating Blackout Poetry can not only be a lot of fun and a form of artistic therapy, but it can also be aligned to ELA standards. Having tried all kinds of Blackout Poem techniques over the years, I’m going to share my favorite Blackout Poetry ideas, lesson plans, and examples so that you too can help put the ART back into your English Language Arts class.
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What is Blackout Poetry?
Also known as redacted poetry, Blackout Poetry is a form of creative expression that involves taking an existing text and blacking out most of the words, leaving only a select few words visible. The remaining words reveal a new poem or message.
Who invented Blackout Poetry?
Though made popular in recent years by Steal Like an Artist author Austin Kleon, Blackout Poetry actually dates back to the 1700s. According to Kleon, Benjamin Franklin’s neighbor, Caleb Whitefoord, created a broadsheet using phrases that were read across the newspaper’s small columns rather than down. The jumbled word order produced some amusing recreations, and from that point onward, the Blackout Poetry art form was born.
Today it is a popular form of self-expression and creativity, as it allows individuals to repurpose existing materials in a unique and personal way.
Blackout Poetry steps:
The process of creating Blackout Poetry involves scanning the text and looking for words or phrases that resonate with the creator. The resulting poem or message can be a reflection of the creator’s thoughts, feelings, or ideas, or it can be a response to the original text. Using either digital tools or art supplies, create a Blackout Poem for the task.
- Step 1: Closely read your text and the assigned task.
- Step 2: Scan the text for words to help you reveal your response.
- Step 4: Underline or box in the words that will reveal your response.
- Step 5: Read the new creation aloud, get feedback, and revise.
- Step 6: Finalize your Blackout Poem by artistically showcasing the words. This can be done in several ways, so get creative!
Blackout Poetry lesson plans and objectives:
I believe in art for the sake of art. I don’t necessarily believe you have to have an objective to teach Blackout Poetry, but if you want or need to align creativity to a standard, then here are some ideas:
- Objective: Reveal of the theme of this text through Blackout Poetry
- Objective: Reveal the mood of this passage through Blackout Poetry
- Objective: Create an artistic summary of the main ideas in this piece
Want more standards-aligned creative poetry writing prompts? Check out my Poetry Pack!
Types of Blackout Poetry Ideas to Try:
Now that you have the basics of a Blackout Poetry lesson plan, let’s take a look at all the fun Blackout Poem formats you can use!
Bookpage Blackout Poetry:
The most common form of Blackout Poetry is bookpage. When you picture examples of Blackout Poetry, this is what comes to mind. To create bookpage Blackout Poetry, you’ll need black markers or black crayons in bulk and either pages from an old book or copies from the printer. To find printable texts for Blackout Poetry, you’ll need to search for a PDF version of the book online. For example, here is the PDF version of The Great Gatsby to create a Great Gatsby Blackout Poem.
Looking for more Gatsby ideas? Keep reading here: Meaningful & Fun Activities for Teaching The Great Gatsby
Digital Blackout Poetry:
The digital Great Gatsby Blackout Poem example on the left is created by me (Ashley Bible) and the one of the right is created by Chris Lott (source)
While I love the tactile aspect of traditional Blackout Poetry, there are plenty of pros trying online Blackout Poetry:
- No need to buy markers or black crayons in bulk
- No need to make copies
- No strong smell or sharp sounds
- More opportunity for revision
- More artistic options
You can use several tech tools to create digital Blackout Poetry. Here are your options:
- Canva (looks more like traditional Blackout Poetry and has amazing graphics)
- Google Slides (is easily accessible and assignable plus has tons of formatting options)
- Powerpoint (is easily accessible and has tons formatting options)
- Online Blackout Poetry Maker Generator (is super easy to work with but doesn’t have art options and may be blocked at school)
You can find digital Blackout Poetry tutorials, lesson plans, and rubrics in this Poetry Pack!
This is a form of colorful Blackout Poetry. Rather than blacking out the text, students design art that highlights the words they want to stand out. One of my most popular ideas is to have students create an Artout Poem on the first day of school that reveals something about themselves while doubling as classroom decor. You can read all about it here: Get-to-Know-You Activities for Secondary Language Arts Class
Just like with the bookpage buntings you see above, you can cut out pages into shapes to create Blackout Cutout Poetry. This is especially fun around the holidays and makes the perfect seasonal decor for bulletin boards or doors! This ghost shaped Cutout Poetry has been a big hit for Halloween Blackout Poetry! Here are some other ideas:
- Heart shaped Cutout Poetry for Valentine’s Day
- Gift shaped Cutout Poetry for winter holidays
- Flower shaped Cutout Poetry for spring ELA activities
- Symbol shaped Cutout Poetry for corresponding texts (endless possibilities!)
Where to find Blackout Poetry Examples:
Beyond my Blackout Poetry examples in this post, there are plenty of places to find more Blackout Poem examples online. Here are some of my favorites:
- This Instagram account dedicated to Blackout Poetry
- Google image search for Blackout Poetry
- Pinterest search for Blackout Poetry
How to display your Blackout Poetry:
Blackout Poetry is eye candy for ELA classrooms! It honestly doesn’t matter how you display it because it’s going to look good no matter what. Here are some examples of my favorite ways to display Blackout Poetry:
- Thread them through yarn to make hanging buntings
- Put them on a bulletin board with mini clothespins
- Add them to Padlet. If you do digital Blackout Poetry, you may not want to use the ink to print them and that’s ok! Padlet makes the perfect display case for digital Blackout Poems! Click this link for more Blackout Poetry examples!
How to grade Blackout Poetry:
Oftentimes I simply give completion grades for creative assignments, but I also include a Blackout Poetry rubric in this Poetry Pack that helps students meet both ELA and Art standards.
I hope this post has inspired you to add a creative Blackout Poetry assignment to your ELA lesson plans! If you want even more poetry response ideas to use with any text, check this out: Writing Poetry Unit : Fun Poetry Activities Paint Chip , Blackout + 12 more!