Blog Post Contributors: Ginny Mason and Bethany Lau
This past year as I wrapped up my evolution unit, I had my students create science blackout poetry about the topics we covered in class. This is a fun way for students to express their big ideas and understandings about the topic. Blackout poetry served as an effective way for me to assess what their takeaways were.
Science blackout poetry has a pretty simple protocol to follow, requiring very few supplies and can be used for any topic.
INSTRUCTIONS (available as a printable PDF in my free resource library):
1. Pick an article from teacher-provided articles
Pick an article from the set of articles your teacher provides you on the topic of study. If the article has multiple pages, you will use the first page only but you will need to read the whole article to get the main idea. (Teachers, you might want to have a selection of articles ready on a particular topic you are studying, like invasive species!)
2. Skim the article for the main idea for your science blackout poetry poem
Skim the article to get the main idea of the article at at the same time, with pencil, underline key words (called “anchor words”) that jump out at you as meaningful for the topic or fun to include in a poem. (The example I show below is an excerpt I printed from The NY Times.)
3. Write the key words down on a separate page to create your poem.
Write these key words, spaced out, on separate lines when possible on the back of this page. Make sure you write them in the order that they appear in your article.
4. Re-read and circle anchor words to add to your poem.
Now, thoroughly read through the article to gain a deeper understanding of the topic. Circle (with pencil) words that could connect the anchor words or words that resonate with you.
5. Add in your circled words to create your poem, adding connecting words when needed.
Look back at the words you wrote down on the back of this page and add your circled words that you think will help you create a poem that reflects the topic. You cannot change the order of the original words from the article though! You may need to look back at the original article and find a connecting word.
6. Circle JUST the words you’re using in the article.
Now that you have decided on the flow of your poem and rough draft of your poem, go back, circle JUST the words you used in your poem for this science blackout poetry assignment.
7. Time for the actual blackout! Finish your science blackout poem!
“Blackout” the rest of the article with colorful markers, only leaving the words you want to keep in your poem. You can get creative and create a picture or pattern if you would like! If you want to include a more detailed picture, I would recommend putting the detailed part of the picture in a part that has fewer words circled and go from there.
In my free resource library, I just added a printable you can use to give students directions on how to complete their blackout poetry assignment! If you don’t already subscribe, you can subscribe at the bottom of the page.
That’s it! While some students found the process a little frustrating at first, all of them were able to create really interesting and unique pieces of poetry expressing their own personal understanding of evolution, natural selection and adaptations.
Here are two other articles you can use to see examples of blackout poetry and ideas to share with your students!
If you try this out, please tag me on IG and show off your class work! It’s a fun way to add language arts to your science class.