Poetry with PicLit
PicLit is a great tool to introduce students to writing poetry.
Start the session with a short, whole class discussion about writing poetry. Who likes to do it? What is challenging about it? Prepare some questions to ask and really listen to the answers.
Then tell the students they are going to write some poems.
You can just give them the student instructions for this step or tell them to go to PicLit and explore the site without writing anything.
Go to the PicLit website and explore it. Click on different images, click on different words. Take some time and become familiar with the site and the different things you can do with it.
After students play with the site for a little bit, it's time to ask them to work independently and choose some photos that they want to write about. It is really important that students are quiet and independent during the inspiration part of the activity. They need the space and the time to think.
After a certain point they need to settle on an image. Don't give them too much time as some students will want their poems to be perfect and keep changing their minds.
One of the main objectives in this activity is getting students to just do it - once they do, they will have fun and be impressed with what they have created.
Students who don't think they can write will feel like they are poets.
3 Becoming Poets
Now that everyone has settled on an image, students can start writing.
Most students will start with Drag-N-Drop. At the very beginning of this part of the lesson, ask the students to drag any word to the image and then click on the arrow beside the word.
Talk about how the words are organized and how that can help you write. Talk about what you can do with the words once they are on the page and how you can move them around.
The only other thing to mention here is that students who struggle with the idea of what poetry is, may end up adding a lot of linking words to make sentences and stories rather than poems. You can talk about this before they write OR you can wait and use it as a teaching moment.
NOTE: Students have two choices, Freestyle OR Drag-N-Drop. If they are using one and change to another mid-poem, they will lose everything.
Students will be writing more than one poem in this lesson, so you can reassure them that they will have the opportunity to try the two types of poetry writing.
4 What is Poetry
After a short time (keep the students engaged by running out of time), ask everyone to stop.
Ask for volunteers to read and/or show on the screen/smart board if they can. Talk about poetry and linking words and ways in which you can move the words and change the sequence.
Take your focus from the students. What do they want to talk about here? There are so many concepts and ideas that you can take some time to introduce, talk about and/or think about for later, including:
What is poetry? Do poems have to rhyme? What is the effect of changing the sequence of words? How did the image help? Who used Freestyle and why?
Finally, after sharing, have students write a few more poems or finish/ edit/refine the ones they just wrote. Give them time to create, independently. Have them keep going . Whether they use the time to write one poem they love or two write 10 poems doesn't matter.
Students have two choices in terms of saving their work:
1. Registering on the site, which makes the poem public.
2. Take a screenshot and save them to their digital portfolios.
You have two choices for saving your work:
1. Register on the site and make your work public.
2. Take a screenshot and save your poems to your digital portfolios.
At this point students will want to share their poems with their classmates. Build in some time for them to walk around or sit in small groups to do this.
While they are doing this, you do it too. In addition to enjoying the poems, make some notes about common images, common words, etc. for future poetry lessons.
6 The End
Bring the class back for a few minutes of reflection about the activity and about the idea of poetry.
One extension activity I have used before is to have students use at least one of their own images to do the same thing. You can put all the student images together on Flickr or you can have everyone work with one of their own.
You can even have students make their own word banks.
This activity is designed as a fun, inspiring activity to kick off poetry writing and to help students understand that they can write and that poems are fun.