Every year I have both my 7th and 8th grade classes do the same project near the beginning of the year–concrete poetry. I’ve been doing this with my students for so many years that I can’t even remember where I first heard of it. There are several things I love about concrete poetry:
1 – The kids love it and are inspired by it. Even if they are lazy with their own poems and don’t put in a lot of effort, they enjoy looking at their classmates’ work. I rarely hear complaints about doing this assignment.
2 – They feel like they’re writing a poem even if they aren’t really writing a poem. My parameters are pretty loose as far as the words go–they don’t have to write deep, meaningful poems. Most of the effort is in creating the shape.
3 – It shows their personality. I love seeing their artistic side. I love seeing the objects they choose to write about and the words they use to create the objects.
4 – I have something fun to display for open house, which is usually within the first 2-3 weeks of school. Parents love looking at all of the poems (and of course their own kids’ too). This year, I had some other teachers help me choose the top 13 poems, which I hung on my door, and the open house visitors voted for their favorite. They loved it! Conveniently we have a book fair right now, so I bought the winner a book at the book fair.
5 – It’s an easy stand-alone lesson that doesn’t require prior knowledge or preparation–perfect for the first week or two of school.
In case you aren’t familiar with concrete poetry, here are my guidelines:
1 – The words alone must create the shape of the poem. No lines or shading can be used.
2 – The object created must be related to the text of the poem.
3 – The poem must be creative and should be neatly and carefully written.
Enough of that boring chatter; let’s get to the poems! Here are a few of my favorites this year (click images to view them larger). Some are numbered because they were in the running for the most artistic at open house.
Update I did concrete poems again in 2013! Click here to see them: 2013 concrete poetry.