A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively
engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.
This learning activity should be used after students have analyzed and examined three informational texts in order to answer the Big Question, "What does it mean to be an American?" Students will then use textual evidence from one text in order to produce a found poem as a whole class. This activity provides students the ability to approach poetry in a non-threatening manner, while also asking students to look past only explicit meaning in texts. Found poetry is the literary equivalent to a collage, so students respond to this activity positively because of its creative nature.
This activity was created as a result of the ALEX Resource Development Summit.
The students will produce poetry using textual evidence from informational texts.
Hand out the texts for students to have all three documents in hand. Instruct your students to select one text that stood out to them the most. They should then select and highlight one phrase and one word that they annotated from the previous class periods. This phrase and the word should be something that spoke to the student. Working in pairs or small groups, have them share their word and their phrase, explaining why they selected each. Instruct students to write their phrase and their word on separate strips of paper. Sentence strips work best for this activity. They should write in markers and large print. Next, form a circle. Explain that you will be creating a “Found Poem” -- a literary equivalent of a collage -- using the words and phrases from the texts they have read. Next, form a circle in the classroom with empty floor space in the middle of the circle. Each student will have three turns to produce a poem on the floor. On the first two rounds, each student can place or move a word/phrase strip in the center of the circle on the floor. On the final round, they can place, move, or pass. After you have gone around the circle three times, your poem will be complete. This activity not only allows students to analyze several texts, but it also asks them to think critically and creatively to construct a class poem. Ask for a volunteer to read the poem out loud to the class. Tape the poem to chart paper and hang it up so the whole class can read it.
Ask questions for further reflection considering the rationale behind what it means to be an American:
This activity can be used to measure the students' ability to annotate and analyze informational texts. Teachers can measure mastery of annotation and analysis using the hard copies of annotated texts of students.
This activity can be used to measure the students' ability to produce clear and coherent writing through the task of creating a poem and reflection questions.
Teachers should make sure to watch the video provided in order to see this activity performed in a classroom: https://www.teachingchannel.org/video/creating-found-poems-lesson
Before completing this activity, students will have read and annotated the following texts in several class periods:
John McCain's Farewell Address
Red Jacket's Speech defending Native American Religion
Oral Histories of Frank Yamasaki and Mary Jenkins
Teachers should be asking students to annotate texts for connotative diction, patriotic imagery, and strong figurative language. These devices will allow students to have much to pull from in order to construct their class poem.
This activity can be completed as a whole group or the class could be divided into groups based upon the texts the students have chosen. Also, the reflection questions could be completed as a whole class discussion or as a written assignment.